Why does japan refuse to supply weapons to Ukraine?

In this Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia struggled to quickly take Ukraine as expected, the Ukrainian army fighting very effectively against Russia, and Russia, the world’s second largest military power, appears to be mired in the quagmire of war.


According to US defense officials, the United States and other NATO allies have shipped more than 17,000 anti-tank missiles and 2,000 stinger-class anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine by March 7, and even Germany has also provided Ukraine with about 1,000 Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank weapons and 500 stinger-class anti-aircraft missiles, and 2,700 9K32 Strela-2m anti-aircraft missile systems.

Ukraine also ask japan to provide anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles, rifles and ammunition to Ukraine but japan refused. Instead Japan sent a few no. of Bulletproof vests and helmets, food, clothes etc.

The Japanese Self-Defense Forces are now equipped with the Type 01 LMAT, man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile, similar to the FGM-148 Javelin, a light anti-tank missile supplied by the United States to Ukraine, and also equipped with the Type 91 MANPADS, similar to the FIM-92 Stinger Man-Portable Air Defense Missile provided by the United States to Ukraine.

Ukraine sent a letter to Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi at the end of February requesting weapons, including ammunition, anti-tank missiles and surface-to-air missiles, the Japanese agency “Kyodo” revealed, citing government sources.

On its part, the Japanese government considered sending arms and ammunition to Ukraine a violation of the “Three Principles” on arms supply abroad. Therefore, the request was denied.

However, Tokyo decided to send body armor, helmets, warm clothing, photographic equipment, tents, food and generators to Kiev.

In 2014, the Japanese government officially abandoned its policy of banning the export of arms and military technology, which had been in place for nearly half a century.

Nevertheless, strict rules were imposed in this regard as Japan was not allowed to export weapons to countries engaged in a military conflict or subject to UN Security Council sanctions.

Sending weapons abroad is only permitted if they “contribute to the cause of peace and contribute to the security of Japan”.

So far, the transfer of weapons for military purposes to overseas approved by the Japan national security council has only been the export of surface-to-air missile parts to the United States and the air-to-air missiles of fighter jets jointly studied with the United Kingdom.

Japanese “Three Principles” on arms supply

First Principle: Cases where transfers are prohibited (clarification of standards)

  1. Cases where the transfer violates obligations under treaties and other international agreements that Japan has concluded
    * Chemical Weapons Convention, Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Anti-Personnel Mines Ban Treaty (Ottawa Treaty), and the Arms Trade Treaty, etc.
  2. Cases where the transfer violates obligations under UN Security Council resolutions
  3. Cases where the defense equipment and technology are destined for a country party to a conflict (a country against which the UN Security Council is taking measures to maintain or restore international peace and security in the event of an armed attack)

Second Principle: Limitation to cases where transfers may be permitted (securing transparency and conducting strict examination)

  1. Cases where the transfer contributes to active promotion of peace contribution and international cooperation
  2. Cases where the transfer contributes to Japan’s security

Third Principle: Limitation to cases where appropriate control regarding extra-purpose use and transfer to third parties is ensured

The Government of Japan will in principle oblige the Government of the recipient country to gain its prior consent regarding extra-purpose use and transfer to third parties

Recently, Ukraine has also asked japan for satellite data, seemingly aimed at collecting high-precision images and using them to keep track of the movements of the Russian military. Satellites operated by japan are equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that captures clear images of the earth’s surface even in bad weather. This, in turn, has made it difficult for Japan to say whether it indirectly constitutes lethality and constitutes “Military cooperation” with Ukraine, and it is, therefore, uncertain whether it can be provided.

the Japanese government said, “we will discuss cautiously with the national security agency as the center and decide whether to provide it after assessing the situation in Ukraine.” ”

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