Japan and the F-35s
Posted by ampontan on Sunday, March 11, 2012
VERY busy with paying work, so here’s something until I have more time. It’s a comment by Kiyotani Shin’ichi, a journalist specializing in military affairs and the Japan correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, and who is often critical of Japanese procurement practices for weapons and military equipment. He was quoted in the 13 January edition of the weekly Shukan Post:
“This decision (to purchase F-35 fighter aircraft from the United States) will be fatal to Japan’s defense strategy. In the budget for the upcoming fiscal year (that starts next month), there are allocations to spend JPY 9.9 billion per aircraft. Ultimately, however, it is still unclear what the procurement costs will be, and it is possible the purchase price will be even higher.
“In addition, it’s been reported that the plane has serious technical difficulties, and it cannot be denied that the U.S. Department of Defense considered cancelling the development program before it was completed. Information on the assembly of critical parts is not being disclosed to the Japanese. This will be a serious blow to the Japanese defense industry, which has been focusing on maintaining the ability to develop and produce its own military aircraft. That we are adopting the F-35 in spite of all these problems provides an insight into the American attitude. The Japanese-American security relationship is undermining Japanese national defense from the root. This (decision) is mistaking the means for the end.”
The American refusal to provide information on parts to the Japanese is nothing new, by the way. Thirty years ago — yes, 30 years ago — I read an article in an American newspaper describing how the U.S. chose not to provide information on the navigational system (if I remember correctly) in a fighter plane. It was a new system, and the Americans wanted to keep it secret.
The Japanese thought that was unacceptable, for reasons having to do with maintenance, repair, and replacement at the least, so they developed their own system they could easily drop into the U.S. aircraft.
It turned out the Japanese equipment was superior to the new American equipment. When they found out about it, the Americans threatened unspecified (in the article) retaliatory measures unless the Japanese offered the system to them.
In other words, they forced Japan to give them information they refused to give Japan.
“Security alliance”, eh? I’m sure we can all come up with different terms that would be more appropriate.