Japanese firms to make F-35 parts

File photo of a F-35 Lightning II.

JAPAN - The government plans to allow domestic companies to start manufacturing in fiscal 2017 parts for the F-35 stealth jet, which will be introduced by the Air Self-Defence Force in fiscal 2016 as the nation's next-generation fighter, sources said Thursday.

The government is in the final stage of negotiations to make a formal decision on the matter as early as Friday, in a meeting to be held on the day with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and such related ministers as Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto, the sources said.

It will be the first time Japanese firms can take part in such manufacturing, as the joint development or manufacturing of defence equipment with other countries, including the United States and European nations, was not possible under Japan's long-standing three principles on arms exports.

However, the government relaxed the conditions of this policy in December.

The principles originally prohibited Japan from selling weapons and military-related technologies to communist states and countries subject to embargoes under UN resolutions.

The policy has raised concerns about the escalating costs of procuring defence equipment and the declining technical defence capabilities of the nation.

Japanese businesses' participation in the manufacturing of F-35 parts is expected to help maintain and enhance such domestic capabilities.

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