Reluctance to Showcase Military Capabilities Slowly Eroding
Japan has invited representatives from Southeast Asian nations to attend a dedicated military technology seminar in Tokyo this week.
The event is aimed at boosting attendance at the three-day Maritime Air Systems and Technologies (MAST) Asia trade show, which will take place just outside Tokyo and will take place immediately after the closure of MAST. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has been putting significant effort into changing perceptions regarding Japanese involvement in defence trade as the threat envelope has increased in both breadth and scope in recent years.
Military representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to MAST will be invited to view, assess and discuss Japanese military hardware solutions that include the P-1 maritime patrol aircraft and the US-2 amphibian. In sharp contrast to the previous MAST in 2015 (which was the first Asian iteration of the established event) this year at least 16 Japanese firms will be exhibiting, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and ShinMayWa Industries. The Japanese Ministry of Defence will then play host to the military technology seminar immediately following the exhibition.
Changing cultural imperatives – particularly one as deep-rooted as the Japanese aversion for defence issues – is a slow and agonising process. But the signs are that Japan – driven by realistic assessment of geopolitical and macro-economic trends – may, in the fullness of time, become another defence equipment exporter – possibly one to be reckoned with.