Japan is one of the countries that does not supply Ukraine with weapons, limiting itself to the transfer of personal protective equipment and other non-lethal aid. And the main reason for this is not so much internal political aspects as the legislation that limits the export of weapons in general.
In particular, the export of weapons in Japan is allowed only in the case of joint production. In general, this aspect is quite a deterrent to the Japanese defense industry, which is forced to work only on its own defense forces in the absolute majority of cases.
At the same time, the country's government proposed to review the legislation and expand the list with the condition that the supply of weapons is possible for countries that are defending themselves from external aggression. As Nikkei Asia writes, this proposal is connected with the fact that Tokyo wants to increase its weight in the international arena, but not look like a "black sheep" at the G7 summit, which is to be held in Hiroshima from May 18 to 22. At the same time, Japan remains the only G7 country that does not supply Ukraine with weapons.
A quite similar situation was during the Desert Storm Operation in the early 1990s, when Tokyo was limited to financial aid, albeit in the amount of $13 billion. Then it became the subject of quite strong criticism and was called "checkbook politics".
For Tokyo, the change in legislation has two more aspects. The first is the issue of Taiwan, which may also need similar arms assistance. The second is the export of weapons in general, although for this it is necessary to remove even more restrictions.
Without exporting one's own weapons, it is difficult to develop an industry that has to cope with the planned two-fold increase in the defense budget. And we are talking about reaching the mark of 100 billion dollars a year and taking third place after the USA and China in this parameter. Tokyo also perfectly understands that they simply voluntarily lose profits in the arms market.
But, as the Japanese article states, one should not expect lightning-fast changes in Tokyo's position, as there is no unanimous support for the revision of the norm in the parliament, and sociological polls show that 76% of the Japanese do not see the need to export weapons to Ukraine. Also, the actual debate regarding the change in legislation is unlikely to start before April.
Even in case of the most optimistic scenario regarding a positive solution to this issue in the short term, one should not expect that Japan will immediately become the "flagship" in arms transfer. Although the country can still provide a certain and significant support with those systems that are already in use in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which is seen as a quite realistic scenario.
In particular, if this condition is followed, according to Military Balance, Japan has 54 M270 GMLRS and 229 FH-70 howitzers, more than 450 120 mm RT-61 mortars. The country can also transfer light infantry weapons, such as Carl Gustaf grenade launchers, as well as ammunition for artillery.
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