Japan buys American weapons at prices set by the U.S. through Foreign Military Sales (FMS). The Defense Ministry’s measures to improve the procurement system through the FMS are absurdly insubstantial.
The Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency decided on two measures to improve the procurement system. One is to assign more officials for the FMS from resident officials in Washington. The other is to send personnel of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to American think tanks to build personal connections with officials in the defense industry. This is not an increase in the number of resident officials but only the reassignment of existing officials to FMS procurement. The number of resident officials in Washington is less than 10. Simply reassigning them to the FMS procurement will hardly improve the system. “This is merely making an alibi,” said an official of the Defense Ministry with a bitter smile. Sending one MOD official to an American think tank costs 10 million yen a year. If embedding a resident official in a think tank can improve the FMS procurement system in which weapons prices can rise on the scale of tens of billions or hundreds of billions of yen, providing ten officials would be significantly cost effective, but the MOD is reluctant to do so. An MOD official said, “We don’t want to offend the U.S. by taking a hard-nosed approach to negotiations.” This illustrates the ministry’s true feelings.