A U.S. defense industry leader said Tuesday in Tokyo that Japanese weapons manufacturers are unlikely to emerge as major competitors to their American rivals, even if Tokyo lifts its decades-old embargo on arms exports.

Given the scale and complexity of contemporary weapons, it would be difficult for a new market entrant to match the manufacturing and development capability of the U.S. arms industry, Northrop Grumman Corp. Chairman Ronald Sugar told a news conference.

Earlier this year, Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba indicated Japan was ready to ease its ban on arms exports so it could jointly develop weapons with countries other than the United States.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said late last year Tokyo will consider easing the ban on arms exports with a view to exporting parts for joint development with the U.S.

His statement followed the government’s decision to introduce a U.S.-developed missile defense system in fiscal 2004.

Sugar said American arms manufacturers are ready to transfer weapons technologies to Japanese makers, if permitted. Japanese weapons makers could eventually become good partners, he said.

Despite the huge budget deficit, U.S. defense spending would continue to modestly increase, irrespective of who is elected president in November, Sugar said.

Defense budgets respond to threats, and the world is still a dangerous place, he said.

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