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Japan bolsters defense-technology cooperation with Europe

Planned tech transfers with Italy, Germany and Sweden seen as a check on China

TOKYO -- Japan plans to conclude separate treaties on transfer of defense equipment and technology with Italy, Germany and Sweden that will give Japan's Self-Defense Forces access to advanced technology from those countries.

Strengthening cooperation in this area could serve as a check against China, which has been expanding its military presence in Asia-Pacific waters.  

Under the envisaged accords, using the jointly developed equipment for purposes other than those initially agreed to or transferring the equipment to a third-party country would require advance consent from the other treaty member.

Japan already has such agreements in place with the U.S., Australia, India, the Philippines, the U.K. and France.

Japan agreed to begin negotiations with Italy when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met his Italian counterpart, Paolo Gentiloni, in March. Later this month, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti will visit Japan, where she will meet with her Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada, to discuss ways to conclude the treaty as early as possible.

Italy is a maritime nation and possesses advanced technology on naval guns as well as radar for vessels and patrol aircraft. Keen to bolster its maritime capabilities, Japan is eager to find areas of collaboration.

Talks with Germany are already underway. The European country boasts strength in ground equipment; the gun barrels for the Type-90 battle tanks used by Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force were developed by a German company. Japanese-made tanks, meanwhile, excel in mobility and acceleration. The two countries see a high potential for synergy in developing tanks together.

Japan is interested in Sweden's air-independent propulsion technology, which enables submarines to remain underwater for long periods. Japan's Defense Ministry officials hope to collaborate with the country to gain access to such know-how.

Regarding China's growing territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, Japan and Europe have expressed their intention to follow the basic principles of the international community and not accept attempts by other governments to change the status quo in the region by force. Strengthening their defense cooperation is seen as a way of countering China's moves.


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