Japan OKs export of missile system parts to US, joint air-to-air missile research with Britain

TOKYO – Japan has approved the export of a locally-made component for a missile defence system to the U.S. and is launching joint research with Britain on air-to-air missile technology for fighter jets.

The approval late Thursday marks the first defence technology transfer since Japan eased military export rules in April.

The policy change reverses Japan’s 1967 self-imposed ban on arms exports under its war-renouncing constitution. It comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government wants to give Japan a more assertive defence posture.

Under the approval, made by the National Security Council, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. can export seeker gyro, a component for Patriot Defence Capability-2 surface-to-air missile defence system, to a U.S. defence equipment maker Raytheon Co.

Mitsubishi has been licensed to produce seeker gyros for Raytheon, which stopped producing them itself. Mitsubishi-made seeker gyros would be transferred to Qatar, Hotchi said.

Separately, Japan’s joint research with Britain uses Japanese seeker technology and is a simulation-based project linked to a Meteor missile development among European countries.

Japanese officials are hoping the research can lead to a technology that can be used for F-35 stealth fighter jets that Japan plans to buy for its Air Self-Defence Forces.