UK Ramping Up Defence and Security Activity in Japan

UK Companies Showcased Defence and Security Expertise in Japan

Defence has been a hot topic in Japan in 2016. Changes in legislation in Japan coupled with winning the hosting rights of several high profile global sporting events between 2019 and 2026 has meant that defence and security is in the spotlight in Japan.

October 2016 saw an increase in bilateral government to government defence talks and business to business activity between the UK and Japan in this sector. The emphasis is on finding ways to engage in ever-closer partnerships and collaboration.

A selection of excellent British firms was invited to participate at Japan International Aerospace Exhibition 2016 – an event only held once every four years – and to exhibit at the annual Special Equipment Exhibition & Conference for Anti-Terrorism (SEECAT).

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The UK and Japan have had significant defence equipment talks this month.

In conjunction to this, a squadron of RAF Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets arrived in Japan to participate in a historic drill together with the Japanese air self-defence force, with the aim of strengthening security ties between the two countries.

All of the equipment on board, including the weapons, ejection seats, and the electronics are designed and made in the UK, and the engines are manufactured by Rolls-Royce.

Defence Strong at Japan International Aerospace Exhibition 2016

For the first time ever, the Japanese Ministry of Defence invited 26 countries, including the UK, to participate in this event.

Representing the UK, the Head of the Department for International Trade Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO), Stephen Phipson, attended the exhibition and high-level bilateral government to government talks as a guest of the Japanese Government.

“UK-Japan cooperation and relationships have been going from strength to strength,” said Phipson. “I’m so pleased to see more British companies than ever here, and I’m very happy to be here.”

The UK and Japan have a long tradition of collaboration in the defence sector. A current example is Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Leonardo-Finmeccanica (formerly Agusta Westland) working to build a new model of helicopter together.

Rolls-Royce also revealed that they have 700 engines in service across the Japan Self-Defence Forces and continue to enjoy a long relationship on both the civil and military aerospace sectors in Japan.

Fellow attendees Ultra Electonics produce electronics for both commercial and military aircraft. The company covers a broad range of products and services, and works closely with Government institutions and the military.

In addition to supplying systems to Airbus and Boeing, Ultra Electronics have been involved in aircraft development and have some of their products on the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which is Japan’s first domestically developed aircraft in about 50 years.

Greg Spring, Head of Overseas Exhibitions at DIT DSO, attends 26 exhibitions a year to showcase British expertise in the defence sector.

“2016 is the first time there has been a real focus on defence as a Japanese airshow,” said Spring. “It’s the first time we’ve brought over a defence delegation and overall there has been a 50% increase in defence companies attending these events.”

“It’s important to us to show that the UK is committed to building relationships with the Japanese Government and private companies here in Japan,” he added.

Latest Security Technology at SEECAT 2016

Several UK companies came out to Japan to exhibit at SEECAT 2016. DIT DSO experts in the areas of security and policy, and cyber security accompanied the delegates to promote the UK as a world leader in the defence sector.

Rohini Kumar, Assistant Director of the Cyber Security Exports Team at the Department for International Trade, was part of the UK pavilion at the exhibition to support delegates and talk to event attendees about what the UK’s cyber security industry has to offer.

“The UK has a long and well-recognised heritage as leaders in providing cyber security solutions, and possesses expertise in all 5 stages of cyber security including, identifying threats, protecting systems, how to detect whether a breach or hack has occurred, how to respond in case of an incident, and ultimately how to recover from that,” she explained.

There will be plenty of opportunities coming up around Tokyo 2020, and Kumar was on hand to talk to Japanese companies and government institutions about the UK’s experiences of cyber security during London 2012 to identify any possible areas of crossover and share lessons learned.

Kumar is keen to identify niche capabilities where British companies can play to their strengths and contribute to the Japanese market.

Her advice for UK companies in this field who want to start doing business in Japan is to attend trade missions and exhibitions, and to contact DIT Japan to find out about the latest opportunities and market research.

Future Opportunities for UK-Japan Collaboration

Japan is planning to build brand new military aircraft in the years ahead, and DIT DSO are encouraging UK companies in the defence industry to come forward and get their products on the planes.

Now is an important time with numerous big opportunities for UK companies to be thinking about doing business in Japan.

DIT is working hard to support UK exporters in doing business in overseas markets, in line with the UK Government’s aim to reach a total export value of GBP 1 trillion by 2020.


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Article and photo by Vanessa Holden, November 2016.