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Japan agrees to supply U.S. artillery shells to replenish stockpiles transferred to Ukraine - WSJ

15 June, 2023 Thursday
19:22

Japan is negotiating to supply artillery shells to the U.S. to increase stockpiles for Ukraine, as Tokyo seeks workarounds to help Kyiv in its counteroffensive despite arms export restrictions

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This was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Since the beginning of February 2022, the United States has sent more than 2 million 155mm artillery shells to Ukraine, and Washington is pressuring its allies to provide their own supplies.

The search for artillery shells for Ukraine has intensified due to the counteroffensive. The United States has used up its stockpile and is looking for ways to support Ukraine without compromising its own military readiness.

"People familiar with the negotiations say Japan is considering supplying 155-mm artillery shells to the United States in the context of a 2016 agreement that allows the two countries to exchange munitions as part of their longstanding security alliance. According to these people, the shells would help replenish US stockpiles that support Ukraine's military efforts," the article says.

Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of Defence held talks in Tokyo with Yasukazu Hamada, Japanese Defence Minister. After the meeting, Austin praised Japan for the non-lethal military support it has provided to Ukraine and said that additional assistance would be welcome.

According to the Ministry of Defence, Ukrainian troops use more than 90,000 155 mm caliber shells per month.

In a statement, the Japanese Defence Ministry said it had not made a final decision on whether to supply artillery shells to the United States or Ukraine. Japan said it was holding various discussions with the United States, but refused to say what they were about. It was not clear how many shells Japan might supply and when.

Since the invasion, Japan has provided Ukraine with body armor, helmets, and other non-lethal military aid, but it has not provided weapons, citing self-imposed restrictions. In the 1960s, the Japanese government adopted arms export restrictions and ruled out the transfer of lethal weapons abroad.

Although the plan with artillery shells does not directly send lethal weapons to the battlefield, it will still be politically sensitive in Japan, where many voters do not want to be involved in foreign conflicts.

At the same time, some conservative Japanese lawmakers say that the country should follow the example of the United States and European countries and directly arm Ukraine. They are in favor of directly arming Ukraine, for example, by supplying M270s.

For example, Japan's ruling party and its coalition partner began discussing easing restrictions on arms exports earlier this year.

According to polls, voters in Japan generally support strengthening the army to defend against regional threats and supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia, but they are not enthusiastic about providing weapons.

  • In early June, it was reported that Tokyo and Washington had found a way to secure the supply of explosives from Japan for the production of artillery shells to be delivered to Ukraine.

  • On May 24, it was reported that Tokyo would provide Ukraine with 100 vehicles and 30,000 dry rations. This is the first time in its post-war history that Japan has transferred military equipment to a warring country. In this regard, the Russian Foreign Ministry protested to the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow.

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