The Defense Ministry launched a new agency Thursday to centralize its logistical needs and deal with the development, procurement and export of defense equipment.

By establishing the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, the government said it aimed to cut costs by consolidating defense equipment-related functions within a single entity, instead of going through individual divisions and agencies.

A core function of the new agency is to manage the development and sale of defense equipment between Japanese contractors and their overseas partners under eased arms export rules adopted in April last year.

It was the first major overhaul in nearly half a century of Japan's arms embargo policy.

The new agency, headed by Commissioner Hideaki Watanabe and with about 1,800 employees, has integrated the ministry's equipment-related divisions, as well as similar Self-Defense Forces sections and related research functions.