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Tuesday May 21 2024

U.S., Japan to launch military industrial council on arms co-production: official

11 April 2024 09:00 (UTC+04:00)
U.S., Japan to launch military industrial council on arms co-production: official

The United States and Japan will launch a military industrial council to discuss co-production of defense weapons, a senior U.S. official has said, in another sign of stepped-up security cooperation amid China's assertiveness, Russia's war in Ukraine and North Korea's military threats, Azernews reports, citing Yonhap.

The official previewed Wednesday's summit between President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, which he said would produce an array of agreements, including the first-ever change in the alliance's force structure and cooperation in lunar exploration and artificial intelligence research.

"We're going to have a military industrial council that will evaluate where we can co-produce defense weapons," the official said during an online press briefing Tuesday.

The plan for the council came after Japan eased its restrictions on military equipment exports amid its continued push for a greater role in global security -- a move that created an opening for deeper defense industrial cooperation with the U.S.

Japan had long hewed strictly to the export curbs due to its post-war exclusively defense-oriented principles and war-renouncing constitution.

"Japan's industrial capacity and strength that had always been on the sidelines will come to bear on one of the weak points right now that we have, which is we don't have really the bandwidth of the defense production capacity that we need for strategic obligations," the official said.

"There will also be pieces as related to the integrated missile defense system with Australia, the United States and Japan."

The official also noted that on the occasion of the summit, the two sides will announce the first-ever change in the alliance's force structure to "make the most" of Japan's new joint operations center.

He was apparently referring to ongoing efforts to modernize the alliance's force structure to ensure seamless coordination between the U.S. Forces Japan and the joint operations command, which Japan's Self-Defense Forces seek to launch reportedly at the end of the year.

The official also touched on expected summit agreements on lunar exploration with Japan being a "full" partner in the domain, research on artificial intelligence between the two countries' private institutes and a scholarship program for Japanese students to study in the U.S.

Another senior U.S. official touted the Biden-Kishida summit as a "remarkable and historic" one.

"I do want to underscore the progress and future-oriented stance of our alliance that is on display in Haiti, in Ukraine, in Southeast Asia, in the Pacific," the official said. "Everywhere that American purpose is being put to the test, Japan is by our side. You will see that clearly animated in our deliverables."

On Thursday, Kishida is set to deliver a speech to a joint meeting of Congress and attend the first-ever trilateral summit with Biden and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

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