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The government is considering exporting the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyer to Indonesia, according to informed sources.

Negotiations on the export are underway with the Indonesian government, the sources said.

A successful destroyer deal, if struck, would provide momentum for Japan’s exports of defense equipment and help realize the country’s initiative to make the Indo-Pacific region free and open, the sources said.

For Indonesia, which has increasingly been vigilant against China’s vigorous expansion into the South China Sea, enhancing security cooperation with Japan through the deal would have some deterrent effects against Beijing, they noted.

Last month, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga agreed with Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in Bogor, near Jakarta, to accelerate bilateral talks on defense equipment exports and technology transfers. Defense ministers of the two countries held a teleconference Monday.

Concrete ideas are believed to have been proposed at those meetings, observers said.

Japan’s three principles on defense equipment transfers, adopted by the Cabinet in 2014, allow exports of equipment that will be used for life-saving, transportation, vigilance and surveillance activities, or minesweeping.

“Exporting a destroyer will not be easy (in light of the principles) because the ship has not only warning and surveillance functions but attack capabilities,” a senior Defense Ministry official said.

But the export may be possible if it is made for the purpose of joint ship development with a foreign country, the official added.

In fiscal 2015, the ministry set up the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency for uniform control of exports of defense equipment.

But the agency had failed to arrange equipment exports until it worked out in August this year a deal to ship four radars to the Philippines.

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