Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa today said his government expects this year to make a decision on the export to third-party states of antimissile technology developed by his nation and the United States, Kyodo News reported (see GSN, Jan. 10).
A U.S.-Japanese agreement says Tokyo must give prior permission to the sale to other nations of the Standard Missile 3 Block 2A interceptor. The Obama administration wants to deploy the SM-3 system around Europe as part of a planned NATO missile shield.
"I told [visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert] Gates that we would make a decision within this year," Kitazawa said.
Gates said Tokyo would have to take some steps to permit such weapon sales. "It makes economic sense to make it available to others," the Defense Department chief said.
"We will be working toward that end with the Japanese government ... but I think it's fair to say that the minister acknowledges the economic benefit of being able to make it available," Gates said.
Japan for decades has maintained a self-imposed prohibition on weapons sales to outside countries, with the exception of arms jointly developed with the United States. Previous reports indicated that should Tokyo amend that ban, it would continue to bar weaponry sales to communist nations, countries under U.N. arms embargoes and other states dealing with international conflict (Kyodo News/Mainichi Daily News, Jan. 13).