Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is said to meet with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Anders Rasmussen next month, when he is expected to visit Japan sometime in the middle of April. According to sources, the purpose for such meeting is for Abe to discuss on behalf of Japanese firms their inclusion in the manufacture of the F-35 fighter jet, which is currently being internationally developed by eight NATO member nations and Australia. Japan is considering purchasing 42 F-35s to be the primary fighter jets of the Air Self-Defense Force.
Earlier in the month, the central government announced that it has allowed some Japanese manufacturers to take part in the building of the F-35 by providing certain components to be used for its construction. While the aim is to encourage growth of Japan’s domestic industries, the government has garnered many criticisms for exempting this particular project from Japan’s ban on arms exports. Then again, from an economic standpoint, this could very well help with Abe’s main mission to revive the country’s economy.
Rasmussen is also expected to meet with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss issues pertaining to China’s military, the security roles NATO plays in Afghanistan and the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran, a government source said. Despite having withdrawn the SDF from Afghanistan, it is believed that Rasmussen will probably ask help in terms of financial assistance, and Abe is likely to acquiesce. Should the trip push through, Rasmussen will be the first NATO chief to visit Japan since December 2007.