US ambassador to Japan says boosting arms industry ties is key to a strong security alliance


TOKYO (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Japan on Tuesday urged Tokyo to play a bigger role in arms development, production and supply “to enhance our collective security” amid conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and elsewhere.

Ambassador Rahm Emanuel visited Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ F-35 fighter jet factory and stressed the importance of strong defense industry cooperation between the allies. The United States alone can no longer supply all democracies, he said.

The visit follows Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Washington, where he met President Joe Biden and highlighted Japan’s commitment to do more as a reliable partner, especially in defense cooperation.

Emanuel told reporters that the countries will now look at what Japan can co-license, co-produce and co-develop. “It is very exciting to bring Japan’s industrial capabilities and its engineering talent to the table through the alliance,” he said.

Under the national security strategy adopted by the Kishida government in 2022, Japan is accelerating its military buildup and increasing its defense budget in the face of threats from China, North Korea and Russia. Japan pledged to acquire what it called a counter-strike capability and purchased 400 Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles, a departure from its post-war pacifist principles.

Japan also significantly relaxed its arms export rules. It allowed the sale of lethal weapons to countries from which it was licensed and the foreign sale of a fighter jet it is developing with Britain and Italy. Changes have allowed Japan to ship Japanese-made PAC-3 missiles to America To help replace Washington’s contributions to Ukraine.

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Many US allies are increasing defense budgets and capabilities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Hamas’ attack on Israel. To meet security, defense and deterrence obligations, “we cannot afford to marginalize Japan,” the US ambassador said.

Mitsubishi Heavy’s F-35 final assembly and checkout plant near Nagoya produces six of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 jets a year and provides maintenance work for those deployed in Japan. The ambassador called the F-35 “the most modern and capable jet in our collective defense and deterrence industries.”

Emanuel said areas of potential cooperation would be discussed at the Military Industry Council and reported to the foreign and defense ministers of both countries.

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