Japan is considering relaxing rules for exporting defense equipment in an effort to prop up the domestic defense industry, government sources said Friday.
Details of the planned revision will be included in a basic policy for economic and fiscal management to be finalized by the government in June, the sources said. But the easing of export controls is expected to raise concerns that Japanese-made weapons may be used in conflicts overseas.
The National Security Strategy, the country's long-term security and diplomatic policy guidelines, will also mention strengthening support for the defense industry in revisions to be made by the end of the year, according to the sources.
The move comes amid growing concerns within the government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party that Japan's defense industry will become unsustainable as companies are pulling out one after another due to low profit margins, with the Self-Defense Forces being their sole client.
While defense equipment and technology transfer agreements that enable exports have been concluded with 12 countries, including Australia, Britain, and India, only one contract for a finished product — air defense radars — has been concluded, with the Philippines.