First arms export set for approval under new rules: Nikkei report

AFP-JIJI

Japan is set to approve its first arms export since relaxing a self-imposed ban on the practice, a report said Sunday, as the country seeks to boost its global military and economic stature.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plans to export a high-performance sensor to the United States, where it will be used in the Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) missile defense system due to be exported to Qatar, the Nikkei business daily said, without providing sources.

Tokyo’s decision — likely to become official later this month — comes after the government in April amended a long-standing ban on arms exports, particularly in cases where the products might be re-exported to countries engaged in conflict.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet eased the rules to allow exports of military products in a move aimed at allowing the country to participate in international weapons-development programs and expand its domestic defense industry.

The government has concluded that the planned transfer of U.S. missile defense technology to Qatar was unlikely to escalate any conflicts, the Nikkei said.

Mitsubishi Heavy produces the PAC-2 sensor for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces under license from U.S. defense giant Raytheon Co., the Nikkei said.

Raytheon, however, is scaling back its production of PAC-2 components to focus on the next-generation PAC-3 missile interceptor system, according to the report.

The sensor is a key component of the infrared seeker set into the tip of the missile to identify and track incoming targets, the report said.