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13 May 2015

Japan Hosts 1st International Defence Show

Japan’s first-ever international defense trade show kicked off in Yokohama yesterday, attracting more than 100 exhibitors as the country aims to ramp up its global security role.

Japanese Defence Minister Gen Nakatani, center, during his very short visit looks at Mitsubishi's laser radar surveillance system.

In opening remarks at the three-day MAST Asia 2015 defence conference on maritime security at Pacifico Yokohama convention center, former Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto stressed the importance of establishing a system of maritime governance. “I suppose most participants here would share the view that the Asia-Pacific region is the center of world growth,” Morimoto told the audience, which included high-ranking military officials from a number of countries. “Maritime security and freedom of navigation based on the international rule of law are the most crucial agenda items for this region.”

Morimoto also said the maritime domain is a “cornerstone” of resource development, since seaborne transport routes account for up to 90% of global resource trade. “As the world population grows, our reliance on oceans as a highway for commerce and source of resources will increase even more,” he said. “I am confident that the conference and trade show will be (a) significant opportunity for many distinguished members to exchange their views . . . and establish valuable relations over the next three days.”
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' SH-60K

Organised by UK-based, privately-held MAST Communications, the event features forums and debates on topics including submarine and maritime security as well as product briefings by defense equipment developers and manufacturers. Participating Japanese manufacturers welcomed the conference, saying it will give them a valuable opportunity to showcase their capabilities and technologies to the world.

Our profile is still low (in the global arena), so we are excited to promote our products to guests from militaries around the world,” said a ShinMaywa Industries Ltd. executive, and continued to say that the government’s decision to relax rules on exporting defense equipment last year was a significant step that helped the Hyogo Prefecture-based company to expand its business overseas (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved the new export rules in April 2014, ending an almost 50-year ban).

ShinMaywa's US-2, priced at almost ¥12 billion per aircraft, can take off and land even on rough seas, a standout feature compared to amphibious planes by other manufacturers.

India is considering buying ShinMaywa’s US-2 amphibious aircraft. If the deal goes through it would be the first fully assembled military export from Japan in decades. Indonesia has also showed interest in the search-and-rescue aircraft. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Forces has seven US-2s.

Indian delegation at MAST Japan 2015 infront of the US-2.

An official for major heavy machinery-maker IHI Corp. also welcomed the inaugural event. Among the company’s products are unmanned underwater vehicles for civilian use, which can gather undersea and seafloor information for resources development. The official said that in light of the move to scrap the ban on weapons exports, the company saw bigger business opportunities for dual-use equipment that can be used for both civilian and defence purposes.

An official for Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., which is promoting its maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and an airborne anti-mine helicopter at the event, said they believe their technologies contribute to international peace and security. “We would like the visitors to get to know (our products),” the official said. “We hope (this exhibition) will lead to business opportunities.”

Kawasaki Heavy Industries P-1 MPA

At Washington’s request, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. was authorized in 2014 to export seeker gyros, which it makes for the PATRIOT Defence Capability-2 surface-to-air missile defence system, to US defence contractor Raytheon. Raytheon stopped making the gyro, a sensor used to identify, track and chase targets, opting to license manufacturing to Mitsubishi in an arrangement that could become a model for cooperation.

Rear Admiral William Merz, who heads US submarine operations from the middle of the Pacific to the Suez Canal, said that alongside submarines, unmanned marine vehicles are increasingly complicating the situation. “There are between 25-30 nations that have a submarine force, or at least a credible submarine capability,” Merz said. “There’s a spectrum of proficiency,” he said. “It’s like operating 747s and Cessnas all in the same area.”

Other domestic exhibitors include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and NEC Corp., while foreign exhibitors include Lockheed Martin, Saab, Rohde & Schwarz, Rockwell Collins, Insitu, General Atomics, BAE Systems, FLIR Systems, Sagem, Babcock, amongst others, and the Australian Government’s Department of Defense. as well as the UKTI Defense and Security Organisation.

Insitu INTEGRATOR UAS at MAST Japan 2015.

JMU's new amphibious vehicle proposal.


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