To sell frigates to Indonesia, Japan likely to bypass pacifist constitution restrictions

China Military Online
Liu Yuyuan
2021-05-20 17:40:47

By Du Wenlong and Song Bo

The Japanese government might deliberately bypass the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology restrictions and sell 30FFM (also known as FFM and previously known as 30DX) multi-mission frigates to Indonesia, according to recent Japanese media reports.

As a defeated country in World War II, Japan promulgated and implemented the Three Principles of Arms Export in 1967 in accordance with the pacifist constitution. The three principles are that arms exports were not allowed to go to:

Communist bloc countries.

Countries under arms exports embargo under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Countries involved in or likely to be involved in international conflicts.

In 1976, Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Miki added to the above-mentioned principles and, in fact, completely banned the export of weapons .

However, shortly after the ban was established, Japan has repeatedly used various excuses to break and modify the ban. In 2014, Abe’s government approved the Three Principles on Defense Equipment Transfers. Overseas transfer of defense equipment and technology will not be permitted when:

The transfer violates obligations under treaties and other international agreements that Japan has concluded.

The transfer violates obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The defense equipment and technology are destined for a country party to a conflict (a country against which the United Nations Security Council is taking measures to maintain or restore international peace and security in the event of an armed attack ).

The Three Principles on Defense Equipment Transfers replaced the Three Principles of Arms Export, which significantly relaxed restrictions on Japan's export of arms and military technology.

In recent years, Japan has continuously strengthened its economic and military ties with neighboring countries in the South China Sea, especially Southeast Asian countries, and has done everything possible to find more breakthrough points. In 2020, Japan successfully exported early warning radars to the Philippines. This time, Japan wants to sell FFM multifunctional frigates to Indonesia in the name of "co-production". Japan sells at "rock-bottom price" to countries that need weapons and equipment and then conducts joint production, particularly attractive to countries with relevant needs.

Military expert Du Wenlong said that Japan's plan is that if it can have more partners around the South China Sea and sign more military agreements in the future, it will gradually whitewash its identity as a country outside the region into a country within the region. In the future, joint maritime operations, joint command, and even various maritime operations with these countries will become the norm. As a result, it will allow Japan to step into the South China Sea. It can be seen from this that the reason why Japan wants to produce a multifunctional frigate with Indonesia jointly is that Japan is not only exporting its equipment and technology but also exporting its influence.

Japan has always been regarded as a "chess piece" by the US. When the US cannot do what it wants in the Asia-Pacific region, it is convenient to use Japan to coordinate ties with neighboring countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The relationship between the US and Southeast Asian countries has always been poor. If the US can use Japan to infiltrate its influence and intentions, it can make Japan a relay station and achieve strategic binding of Indonesia and other countries through the US-Japan alliance.

In the future, the US and Japan will have their division of labor in military cooperation. When it comes to some small countries, especially when the US cannot fully influence them, the US will let Japan use economic or other means to infiltrate, disintegrate, and dissolve. However, if Japan takes the opportunity to expand its influence and steal the thunder, it will cause dissatisfaction from the US, which will not tolerate it.

Editor's note: This article is originally published on, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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