Japan will allow fighter jets being developed with UK, Italy to be exported

Japan has decided to ease its strict defense export rules to allow the next-generation fighter jet that it is developing with Britain and Italy to be exported under certain conditions.

The decision, which was made by the government at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, is in line with an agreement between the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito.

The government says that Japan must develop a fighter plane that has the capabilities needed to cope with the country's security environment. It also says a fighter plane needs to be developed to prevent negative impacts on national defense.

The government says it realized a mechanism was needed that would allow it to transfer the fighter jets to third nations.

It says the ruling coalition will hold discussions before the jets are exported. It also notes that each individual export will require Cabinet approval.

The government held a Cabinet meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday. During the meeting, the guidelines for implementing the country's three principles on the transfer of defense equipment abroad were revised.

The revised guidelines say that exports will be limited to the next-generation fighters. They also say the fighters can only be transferred to countries that have signed defense deals with Japan and are not involved in active conflicts.

Defense Minister Kihara Minoru told reporters he believes Japan can demonstrate that it is determined to maintain its postwar status as a peace-loving nation by using a strict process to make decisions.

He said that the government's decision will give Japan the standing to make the same contributions that Britain and Italy make.

He added that Japan will thoroughly discuss the matter with its two partners, so that a fighter jet suitable for the country's security environment can be developed.

Referring to the development schedule, Kihara said that the three countries are working on the fighter's design right now.

He added that they will work together, so decisions about the specifications and performance of the aircraft can be made in five years.