Defence to Japan
From 2014 to 2018 the Japanese Government committed to spending just under
A$300 billion on defence to build an integrated and agile defence force.
Australia is well positioned to forge new partnerships with Japanese
industry to serve this large and growing market. Japan and Australia share
many of the same security challenges in protecting a vast sea and airspace.
The Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) also operate some of the same or
similar platforms as the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and are aware of
the operational experience and high-level capabilities of the ADF.
Australian defence enterprises that can demonstrate a deep understanding of
Japan’s capability needs and that are willing to partner with Japan’s
domestic industry and local trading houses will be well positioned to take
advantage of the opportunities in this market. However success will require
patience, and a keen awareness of the many complexities and challenges of
operating in Japan.
Austrade, working closely with the Defence Attaches Office, and having an extensive network of Japanese government and corporate defence contacts, can provide tailored introductions, advice and support to Australian companies interested in accessing this important market.
Key market drivers
Japan’s budget for defence expenditure is the eighth largest in the world
and is increasing in modest increments. This increase is primarily due to
an announcement in March 2017, by Prime Minister Abe ending a policy which
capped government defence expenditure at 1 per cent of Gross Domestic
. Total expenditure on defence for the 2016/17 Japanese Financial Year
(JFY) which runs from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, was approximately
A$55.2 billion. Japan’s yearly defence budget is published in English on the Japan Ministry of Defence website.
Policy and defence spending
The strategic drivers for Japan to spend more on defence are articulated in
the foundation documents the National Security Strategy, and the National Defence Program Guidelines (NDPG) published in December
The National Security Strategy provides the guiding principles of
Japan’s security and its national interests and objectives. NDPG is guided
by the National Security Strategy and is roughly equivalent to Australia’s Defence White Paper in scope and intent. It has a time
horizon of approximately 10 years, and it outlines Japan’s view of
developments in its security situation and basic defence policy.
The NPDG concludes the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming
increasingly severe, requiring Japan to ‘build a comprehensive defence
architecture and strengthen its system for preventing and responding to
JSDF has just under 250,000 active duty personnel and consists of three service branches: maritime, ground and air.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF)
JMSDF operates a modern fleet of approximately 154 ships and 346 aircraft, including AEGIS equipped ballistic missile defence destroyers and the world’s second largest fleet of P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF)
JGSDF currently has 9 active duty divisions (1 armoured, 8 infantry), and 6 active Brigades. It is currently developing an amphibious force to be named ‘Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade’ that will be stationed in Japan’s south.
Japan Air Self-Defense Forces (JASDF)
JASDF operates over 700 aircraft, with approximately half of these being combat aircraft (F-15 and F-2 (based on the US F-16)). The first F-35A (Joint Strike Fighter) for Japan was presented at an official roll out ceremony on September 23, 2016, the first of four F-35As built in the US. Japan’s remaining 38 F-35As for the JASDF are being assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Final Assembly and Check Out facility in Nagoya, Japan.
JSDF has historically preferred sourcing its equipment from local Japanese
industry. However Japan is now spending a higher proportion of its
procurement on foreign systems, to include non-US sourced equipment.
Australian companies with experience in supplying proven, cutting-edge
technologies, products and/or services to the ADF and other overseas
Western militaries have the potential to be attractive in market. However
factors for success in Japan include patience, thorough research of Japan’s
capability requirements, investment in local partnerships and
representation, and timely provision of accurate and tailored information
to end users and stakeholders.
Capability build-up program and priorities
The Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP) which is in accordance with the
NDPG, establishes a five-year capability build-up for the JSDF from 2014 to
2018. Just under A$300 billion (in 2013 dollars) is allocated to MTDP aimed
at making JSDF a more dynamic, and flexible force, capable of responding to
a range of contingencies.
MTDP’s six program guidelines for defence build-up are:
1) Emphasis on developing and strengthening the following functions and capabilities:
Intelligence Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
- C3I (Command and Control, Communications, and Intelligence)
Response to an attack on Japan’s remote islands
Response to ballistic missile attacks
Response to outer space and cyberspace threats
Response to large-scale disasters
International peace cooperation efforts
2. Prioritise development of capacities to ensure maritime supremacy and air superiority; development of rapid deployment capabilities, and achievement of greater efficiency and rationalisation of preparations for invasions such as landing invasions
3. Efficiently secure defence capabilities adequate both in quality and quantity
4. Promote measures to reform the personnel management system
5. Strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US Alliance
6. Achieve greater efficiencies and streamline the build-up of the defence forces.
MTDP also specifies plans related to JSDF’s capabilities and the major military procurement items these plans will require, specifically:
Maritime and airspace security:
- procure new airborne early warning (and control) aircraft and fixed air defence radar; improve airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) (E-767); procure surface-to-ship guided missiles; fixed-wing patrol aircraft (P-1); procure Aegis-equipped destroyers (DDG), submarines, and patrol helicopters (SH-60K).
Response to attacks on remote islands:
- procure fighter aircraft (F-35A); replace fighter aircraft (F-15) unsuitable for modernisation with more capable fighter aircraft; procure new aerial refuelling/transport aircraft; equip transport aircraft (C-130H) with aerial refuelling capabilities; and procure rescue helicopters (UH-60J).
Improving rapid deployment and response capabilities:
- procure transport aircraft (C-2); acquire amphibious vehicles; and refit tank landing ships (LST).
Response to ballistic missile attacks:
- introduce advanced PAC-3 missiles (PAC-3 MSE); improve automated warning and control systems; procure and improve fixed air defence radar (FPS-7) systems; promote Japan-US cooperative development of advanced interceptor missiles (SM-3 Block II-A); in preparation for an attack by guerrilla or special operations forces, continue procurement of a variety of surveillance equipment, light armoured vehicles, NBC reconnaissance vehicles, etc.
Response in outer space and cyberspace:
- develop an X-Band satellite communications system.
Japan has historically relied on its domestic industry to provide equipment
and technology for its JSDF. Major foreign platform and system purchases
are predominantly sourced from the US – the first country Japan most often
looks to for new capabilities that its industry cannot produce.
In recent years, Japan has increased the purchase of foreign, including
non-US sourced equipment, but also has a policy of supporting its domestic
defence industrial base.
Any promotion of a foreign system or capability should be tailored to a
specific Japanese defence requirement (based on analysis of NPDG and MTDP
and other documents), delivered effectively in spoken Japanese and
translated into Japanese. Should a proposal proceed, all documentation,
negotiations and tenders for Japanese defence contracts should be conducted
in Japanese language.
Austrade can provide in-depth briefings and advice to assist firms in overcoming these challenges, as well as with language, business and cultural support. We can also provide in-depth information on Japanese stakeholders and how to analyse Japanese defence needs and prepare business pitches.
The Japanese defence market is comprised of three core stakeholders: the Japanese Government; local Japanese defence industry; and trading houses that represent foreign suppliers, and foreign defence firms.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense (JMoD) was established in 2007 and is currently
headed by Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera
, a member of cabinet reporting directly to Prime Minister Abe.
Acquisition and procurement programs as well as defence R&D is managed
by the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), created in
October 2015 and is part of JMoD. ATLA is equivalent in functions and
responsibilities to the Australian Department of Defence’s Capability and
Sustainment Group and Defence Science and Technology Group combined, and is
responsible for both procurement and R&D.
The equivalent to ADF Service Chiefs are Chiefs of Staff (CoS) JMSDF,
JGSDF, and JASDF, who are four star officers supported by service specific
staff offices (Maritime Staff Office, Ground Staff Office and Air Staff
Office) who are co-located in Ministry of Defense Headquarters in Ichigaya,
Tokyo. The Chief of Staff Joint Staff, currently Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano,
is the most senior JSDF officer, equivalent to Australia`s Chief of Defence
A civilian bureaucracy, known as the Internal Bureau, exercises policy
control and influence over future capability investment decisions. There
are various elements of the JMoD and higher government organisations that
are stakeholders in future force design and capability requirements
JMoD submits its yearly budget request to the Japanese Ministry of Finance
An organisational chart of the Ministry of Defense is available on the
Other stakeholder ministries in Japan are:
Japan’s defence industry
The JJMoD’s contracts for FY2015 amounted to 1.81 trillion yen or A$20.43
billion (88.7 yen/dollar) with 6,693 items, and for FY2016 amounted to 1.84
trillion yen or A$20.74 billion (89.87yen/dollar) with 6,767 items.
The Top 20 largest Ministry of Defence contractors in FY2016, by monetary
size of contract are:
|| Contract number
|| AUD (million)
|| % of Total
||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
||Kawasaki Heavy Industries
||Japan Marine United
||Japan Steel Works
||Cosmo Oil Company
||JX Nippon Oil and Energy
Source: ATLA, Japan Ministry of Defense 2017
New-to-market Australian companies wishing to access Japan’s defence market
are advised to contact a Japanese trading house that has an established
reputation for representing foreign firms to JMoD. Japanese trading houses
in the defence sector include (but are not limited to) Kanematsu, Marubeni,
Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui & Co, Sojitz, Sumitomo Corporation,
Shintoa and Itochu.
Austrade can provide tailored introductions to trading houses that have experience representing foreign firms to the Japanese Ministry of Defence.
Access to Market
Japan hosts and attends international defence exhibitions, which are a good
opportunity to interact with operational end-users and procurement system
stakeholders, including Japanese industry.
Over the period 5-7 March 2018, the Australian Department of Defence (DOD) and Japanese Ministry of Defense (JMOD) co-hosted their inaugural Japan-Australia Defence Industry Forum Week in Tokyo to facilitate better understanding of defence industry opportunities in the Japanese and Australian markets. Team Defence Australia (TDA) attended the forum, consisting of Australian industry clients and Australian Government officials from DOD, the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC). The program for the week included industry briefings sessions, presentations to Japanese defence officials and Japanese industry by Australian companies as well as a follow on networking reception hosted by the Ambassador to Japan. Future defence industry forums are planned to occur in both Australia and Japan. Please contact Austrade Tokyo for the latest information on the next forum.
Australian Government Defence Export Controls (DEC)
The Australian Government, through Defence Export Controls (DEC), regulates
the export of controlled defence and strategic goods and technologies to
ensure their end-use is consistent with Australia’s national security,
foreign policy and international obligations. It is important for
Australian organisations to note and understand their export control
obligations, and to be aware of any catch-all legislation obligations upon
their business e.g. military or dual-use goods and technology.
DEC provides a range of services and information to assist Australian
exporters to understand how to comply with Australia's export control laws:
Defence Export Control website
or call 1800 66 10 66 / email
 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2016
 Appointed 03 August 2017
Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission – Austrade – contributes to Australia's economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they:
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Working in partnership with Australian state and territory governments, Austrade provides information and advice that can help Australian companies reduce the time, cost and risk of exporting. We also administer the Export Market Development Grant Scheme and offer a range of services to Australian exporters in growth and emerging markets.
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