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Unfair procurement of weapons from U.S. tripled this year

  • 2015-11-09 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: November 7, 2015 – p. 1)


 The total cost of weapons that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) procures from the U.S. government through foreign military sales (FMS) increased to a record high of 591.6 billion yen for the current fiscal year, it has been learned. This amount includes the cost for Osprey vertical takeoff and landing transport aircraft. The U.S. side can change prices and delivery dates to its advantage for FMS. Under this system, the U.S. government could significantly exert influence over Japan’s security policy through weapons transactions.


 FMS began in 1954 when the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement between Japan and the U.S. was concluded.


 The Tokyo Shimbun requested that the Defense Ministry provide the total cost of FMS procurement by year for the last 10 years. The total amount decreased for the first five years after FY2006, but began increasing after FY2011. The amount for this fiscal year tripled compared to that of the previous year.


 Procurement through FMS of expensive weapons, such as airborne early warning aircraft and unmanned aircraft for long flight duration, as well as bulk purchases of weapons and equipment contributed to the increase. Another factor contributing to the increase is that now Japan buys weapons that used to be produced under license by Japanese corporations from the U.S. through FMS in order to help the U.S. obtain foreign currency.


 FMS is part of the U.S.’s security policy. Countries involved in FMS are required to accept the procurement conditions set forth by the U.S. government. The conditions include: 1) prices and delivery dates are only estimates to which the U.S. government is not bound; 2) payment is required in advance; and 3) the U.S. government can cancel contracts. The conditions are unilaterally advantageous to the U.S. government.


 It has already been pointed out that the price of the Ospreys to be purchased under FMS has been substantially raised. Based on the “the five-year defense buildup program” that covers FY2014 to FY2018, the U.S. government decided in May this year to sell Japan 17 Ospreys and related equipment at a total cost of $3 billion (about 360 billion yen).


 Of the 17 Ospreys, Japan will procure 5 units this year at 8 billion yen each. As the seller, the U.S. is entitled to set the price. It apparently raised the price by adding some options, such as technical support, which apparently pushed up the total price.


 According to the Defense Ministry, a portion of the equipment that Japan has ordered and already paid for has either not been delivered yet or the administrative procedures have not been completed. The total amount for such outstanding equipment is reportedly 53.2 billion yen. If the Japanese government continues procuring weapons through FMS, this amount will may increase. In addition, the SDF may not be able to have the necessary weapons in its possession when needed.

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