Japan announced that it was selling Patriot missiles to the US. The country changed the arms export ban that had been in force for several decades. The missiles will replenish U.S. supplies and allow more of them to be sent to Ukraine.
A US official told The Wall Street Journal that Japan would send dozens of missiles from its own supplies. These activities are scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2024.
Weapons export ban
Japan previously had a ban on arms exports, a rule introduced in 1976. In 2014, part of the ban was relaxed, but the country could still only export licensed components, not entire systems.
The latest version goes a step further by allowing the export of finished products to countries where patent holders are based. An anonymous Japanese government official told Reuters the missiles would add to the U.S. military’s arsenal to ensure security in the Indo-Pacific region, where tensions with China and North Korea are worsening. The agency said Japan still cannot send weapons to war-torn countries such as Ukraine.
Missiles to the USA
However, people familiar with the U.S.-Japan discussions told the Financial Times that the missiles arriving in the U.S. would release stockpiles destined for the Indo-Pacific region and would be sent to Ukraine.
Patriot is the main air defense system the US has in its arsenal, capable of tracking 100 targets from 60 miles away.
Ukraine says it needs more help with air defense systems such as the Patriot system as Russia steps up missile attacks across the country.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted other countries to rethink their interactions with the global arms trade: days after the invasion began, Germany lifted World War II restrictions that limited its ability to send any weapons to areas of conflict.