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Japan and US Bolster Co-operation in Defence R&D

Range of Interests Includes Hypersonics and Space-Based Capability

The United States and Japan have agreed to deepen co-operation in R&D in military technologies, as part of a new pact meant to address what they describe as emerging security threats in the region.

A spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Tokyo told MON that, on 7 January, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Raymond F Greene, chargé d’affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in Japan, signed a new Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that includes provisions for joint research, development and production projects in military technologies, ranging from hypersonic missiles to space-based defence capabilities.

The provisions are aimed at “strengthening the defence capabilities and securing of the technological superiority of the Japan-US alliance,” while at the same time improving the interoperability between US and Japanese forces, noted MoFA.

Referring to the new pact, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a virtual meeting on 6 January with Hayashi and Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, “We’re launching a new research and development agreement that will make it easier for our scientists, for our engineers, and program managers to collaborate on emerging defence-related issues […] When Japanese and American researchers bring their complementary strengths to bear, we can outcompete and out-innovate anyone. So, we’re eager to dig into these discussions, and to keep strengthening and modernizing this alliance, which is more critical and also more vital than ever.

Japan is prioritising development of advanced technologies such as electromagnetic railguns, high-power microwave- and laser-based weapon systems to help counter the growing missile threat posed by neighbouring actors such as China, Nth Korea and Russia.

Kosuke Takahashi in Tokyo for MON

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (right) and Raymond F Greene, chargé d’affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in Japan, exchange the recently-signed SMA on 7 January. (MoFA)

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