Japan - Country Commercial Guide
Defense Procurement
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Japan’s Ministry of Defense (“JMOD”) spends most of its budget on salaries, operational expenses, training, and development.  Capital expenditures represent the second largest budget spend and include the procurement of military equipment, material and R&D expenses, aircraft acquisition, and shipbuilding.  Japan’s defense budget for Japan Fiscal Year (“JFY”) 2023 was 6.8 trillion yen (approximately $480 bn) – the nineth largest defense budget in the world and the third largest in Asia.  Japan’s growing defense expenditures are mainly driven by its assessment of an increasingly challenging regional security environment, including the threat of advancing North Korean missile technologies and China’s assertive regional behavior.  

Over recent decades, Japan’s defense expenditures have been slightly less than one percent of Japan’s GDP – an informal, self-imposed spending ceiling.  Japan’s defense expenditures have increased slightly for the last ten years with consecutive record high defense budgets. With an increasingly aggressive China as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Japan is keenly aware of the worsening security environment.  Japan has expressed intentions to double its defense budget over the next five years to bring it in line with NATO’s standard of national defense budgets representing two percent of a country’s GDP.   

Japan is in the process of updating its foundational security documents: the National Security Strategy; the National Defense Strategy (NDS) and Defense Buildup Program. The JFY 2023 defense plans consists of eight pillars including a focus on: (1) Standoff Defense Capabilities; (2) Air Defense; (3) Missile Defense; (4) Unmanned Equipment; (5) Cross-Domain Operations; (6) Command; (7) Control; and (8) Intelligence.  Additionally, the JMOD remains focused on capabilities that enhance Japan’s ability to defend remote islands and respond to large-scale disasters.  

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (“DSCA”) administers U.S. defense equipment foreign military sales (“FMS”) to Japan.  The Mutual Defense Assistance Office (“MDAO”) at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is the in-country office for FMS sales to Japan.  The Government of Japan initiates such FMS transactions with the U.S. Government for specific items or services by submitting requests for price and availability data to the U.S. Government.   By contrast, the Government of Japan initiates direct commercial sales (“DCS”) from U.S. private defense trading firms, distributors, and agents through direct inquiries with these entities.    

In October 2015, Japan established the Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (“ATLA”) under the JMOD.  The ATLA is responsible for defense equipment policy and logistics planning, procurement, and defense industrial policy.  In addition, ATLA administers defense equipment R&D, R&D policy, and management of R&D institutes.  The ATLA integrated various of Japan’s acquisition functions under its Internal Bureau, Staff Offices, Technical

Research and Development Institute (“TRDI”), and Equipment Procurement and Construction Office (“EPCO”).  Roughly 1,800 officials work in ATLA under a commissioner who reports directly to Japan’s Minister of Defense.  

As with any other government procurement, potential vendors to the JMOD and Japan Self Defense Forces (“JSDF”) are required to apply and register with the Government of Japan.  U.S. military equipment makers may benefit from partnering with Japanese trading firms, distributors, or agents for purposes of conducting business with the Japanese military.  Japanese partners are also helpful in addressing Japanese language issues as well as unique Japanese cultural and business practices. 


Government of Japan Agencies

  • Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD)
  • Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)
  • Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA)

Commercial Service Japan Contact 

For additional information about Japan’s defense procurement, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service at Office.Tokyo@trade.gov or Ms. Sayoko Koto at sayoko.koto@trade.gov