Japan studies options to export weapons to Ukraine such as rocket launcher systems

According to information published by the Japanese news website "Nikkei Asia" on March 10, 2023, Japan studies new rules to export weapons and military equipment to countries that are fighting an invasion, such as Ukraine. Masahisa Sato, a Japanese politician of the Liberal Democratic Party, suggested sending multiple rocket launch systems to Ukraine.
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The American M270 MLRS Multiple Launch Rocket System is in service with the Japanese Defense Forces. (Picture source Wikimedia)

Japan has joined Western countries in imposing sanctions on Russia and has provided humanitarian, although not military, aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion of Ukraine that was launched on February 24, 2022. In February 2023, Japan offered new financial support to Ukraine worth $5.5 billion.

Japan has only sent bulletproof vests and other nonlethal equipment to Ukraine. Under current rules, Tokyo can only transfer warplanes, armored vehicles and missiles to countries that jointly develop and produce the hardware.

Currently, the Japanese army has 60 American M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems), Japan may offer to deliver to Ukraine that type of weapon and supplement the M270 systems already donated by France, Italy, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Citing the "Nikkei Asia" website, the Japanese government and the ruling coalition are expected to begin a debate about weapons exports after local elections in April, in deference to Komeito. That would leave a limited amount of time before Kishida attends the G-7 summit.

Japan has strict rules governing the export of armaments, which are outlined in the Three Principles on Arms Exports. These principles were established in 1967 and have been revised several times, most recently in 2014.

The Three Principles state that Japan shall not export arms to countries that are involved in conflicts or that are likely to become involved in conflicts, nor to countries that do not meet certain international standards. Additionally, Japan shall not export arms for the purpose of contributing to the development of military capabilities that pose a threat to international peace and security.

These principles have historically limited Japan's ability to export arms, although the government has recently taken steps to loosen these restrictions in order to promote defense cooperation with allies and to support Japanese defense contractors. However, Japan still maintains strict controls on the export of certain types of armaments and technologies, particularly those that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The Japanese defense industry is comprised of several major companies that develop and manufacture defense-related products, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Toshiba.

These companies produce a range of defense equipment, including ships, submarines, fighter jets, helicopters, and missile systems. In recent years, the Japanese government has sought to increase investment in defense research and development in order to enhance the country's self-defense capabilities.