Takagi: Strict controls on defense exports, convincing explanation to public needed

March 16 , 2024

Komeito’s Yosuke Takagi spoke to the party’s organ paper on defense exports going forwardKomeito’s Yosuke Takagi spoke to the party’s organ paper on defense exports going forward

On March 15, Kisaburo Tokai of the Liberal Democratic Party and Yosuke Takagi of Komeito, the Policy Research Council chairs of their respective political parties, agreed to authorize export of third parties the next-generation stealth jet fighter, but only for that aircraft. They also agreed to stiffen controls over the export review and authorization process.

Known as the Global Combat Aircraft Program, GCAP is being co-developed by the UK, Italy and Japan. Given the advances in modern military technology and ranges of standoff weapons, in order for Japan to maintain to its “defense oriented” security policy, it must intercept threats at greater distances than ever before. Another factor at play is that the F2 strike aircraft, one of three mainstay jets of the Japanese air defense force, is rapidly nearing the end of its service life.

At the time the development project was being negotiated, the Japanese government was not aware that its two partners were seeking Tokyo’s agreement on third-party exports, but as talks progressed, the issue was brought to fore.

While cognizant of the escalating challenges in Japan’s security environment, Komeito has been consistent in urging Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to elicit public understanding for the easing of longstanding export restrictions. In an interview with the Komei Shimbun organ paper, Takagi reiterated his party’s call for the government to explain to public satisfaction why the aircraft is necessary, why it must be co-developed with foreign partners and why it should be sold directly to third parties. Takagi also said that the LDP and Komeito agreed on the following conditions to be observed before such sales are approved:

• That the Kishida Cabinet endorse the new export policy;
• That the ruling coalition partners—the LDP and Komeito—confer in advance and only on a case-by-case basis;
• That only the GCAP jet will be reviewed for third-party export;
• That GCAP could only be exported to nations Japan has signed agreements allowing the transfer of defense technologies;
• And that nations involved in combat are excluded.

These terms, explained Takagi, are safeguards Komeito had LDP agree to so that the government cannot unilaterally approve the export of defense equipment.