Tokyo and Washington have agreed to strengthen checks concerning the implementation of contracts for U.S. defense equipment sales to Japan.

The agreement was reached Wednesday at a meeting in Tokyo between Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency and the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The meeting was held in response to a series of problems involving Japanese procurement of defense equipment under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.

Participants agreed to hold regular meetings to confirm whether such contracts are fully implemented, purchased goods are delivered and overpaid money is returned.

The meeting was attended by Hirofumi Takeda, commissioner of the Japanese agency, and Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, director of the U.S. agency.

The U.S. side accepted a Japanese proposal for regular meetings between Japanese liaison personnel in the United States and the U.S. agency to investigate what causes delivery delays. The United States also agreed to increase lower-level meetings as proposed by Tokyo.

According to the Japanese agency, there were 132 cases in which defense equipment worth ¥32.6 billion had not been delivered as of the end of fiscal 2018. Reimbursement had not been made in 263 cases, totaling ¥49.3 billion.

The problems were pointed out last year by the Board of Audit of Japan, which requested that the Japanese Defense Ministry urge the U.S. to take improvement measures.

Defense equipment procurements under the FMS program stood at ¥43.2 billion on a contract basis in fiscal 2011 under the government led by the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan.

The amount has surged under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, reaching ¥701.3 billion in fiscal 2019.

“The government needs to ensure better accountability” over the issue, an official of the Japanese agency said.

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