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INTERNATIONAL > Europe & Eurasia

Commentary: defense equipment cooperation will benefit both UK and Japan

  • November 17, 2016
  • , Yomiuri , p. 13
  • JMH Translation

By Stephen Phipson, Head of the Defense and Security Organization (DSO, an arm of the United Kingdom Department for International Trade)


There are two significant points in defense equipment and technology cooperation between the UK and Japan. First, both countries can manufacture better products by taking advantage of each other’s technology and experience. Second, both countries can enhance their defense capability of protecting their respective citizens and military units by sharing experience and cooperating with  each other as equal partners. Such bilateral cooperation will bring the two countries win-win relations (to benefit both countries).


I’d like to give high marks to the two countries’ bilateral cooperation that has been in progress. The UK has adopted Japan’s seeker technology (to lock on a target) in the process of joint research on air-to-air missiles that began in 2014. The research is making progress faster than expected. We also use Japan’s material technology in joint research on chemical protective clothing.


My role in the UK government is to have Japanese industry actively participate in the bilateral cooperation.


Specifically, for example, I want as many Japanese corporations as possible to participate in the UK government’s procurement of defense equipment. The British government procures defense equipment in a very open and competitive way.


As potential areas for future cooperation, we could work together on engines for military airplanes and propulsion systems. The UK can share its experience with Japan for the Self-Defense Forces to introduce the next generation fighter by providing Tokyo with our fighter and high-speed jet technology.


We need established know-how for defense equipment cooperation with other countries. The UK has learned many lessons over the past 50 years and we can share them with Japan. I belong to the DSO, which is primarily in charge of exporting defense equipment to friendly countries. The DSO properly exports defense equipment to a limited number of countries under a strict control system. We want to help Japan expand its international market share.


Exporting defense equipment is a time-consuming process requiring patience. It takes three to five years to win a contract. Various investments are also needed. It is also important to exhibit products at international trade fairs. We want to share the UK’s experience with Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA).


As the UK and China have been deepening their economic relations, there are some people voicing concern that the UK’s defense technology might be leaked to China. The UK is one of the countries that have the most stringent export control system. We strictly limit our contract and approval in case our defense equipment exported to a third country is re-exported to another country.


Japan’s Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology is a very strong framework for export control, but the UK has even more stringent restrictions in some areas. We put strict restrictions on not only defense equipment but also dual-use technology. As far as I know, the UK’s defense equipment or information has never been leaked to China.


Bilateral cooperation in the field of cybersecurity is also important. The UK has 70 years’ experience in intelligence gathering and analysis using electronic devices (signals intelligence, or SIGINT). During the 2012 London Olympics, the UK made all-out efforts to fight against serious threats posed by cyberattacks. We want to share our experience with the Japanese government in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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