Japan announced a new defense-industry partnership with the U.K. earlier this month, its first foreign deal after relaxing its decades-old restrictions on defense cooperation with non.-U.S. partners in December. In an email interview, Ralph A. Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS discussed Japan’s new overseas defense cooperation.
WPR: What brought about Japan's relaxation of restrictions on developing defense equipment with foreign partners?
Ralph A. Cossa: This has been in the works for some time and had support both from the opposition -- which had flirted with the change for years when it was in charge -- and the U.S. The Japanese fully realize that the old self-imposed restrictions put them at a competitive disadvantage and that this adjustment was necessary if they were to compete for the lucrative international arms trade. It is also part of Japan's maturation process and its efforts to become a more "normal" nation and compete like others do in the international arena. The growing economic and military challenge posed by a rising China also gave Tokyo incentive to be more flexible. In truth, the better question is why did it take Tokyo so long to finally remove this self-imposed and somewhat anachronistic restriction.