Since the October 2015 establishment of the 1,800-strong Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, Japan’s Ministry of Defense has been attempting to streamline its acquisition process and facilitate private-sector research and development. Results have been mixed.
Efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to normalize Japan's security posture and bolster its US alliance against China hit an obstacle when the Lower House Commission on the Constitution declared Abe's moves unconstitutional. Still, Japan is expected to pass legislation around August to expand the nation's ability to better support the US in the defense of Japan.
The purchase of the F-35 should give the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) next-generation intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance performance, but upgrades to Japan's F-2 and F-15 fleets can continue for only so long, and replacements will be needed in the mid-to-late 2020s.
Japan's defense buildup, while designed to give the nation's planners a platform to meet emerging threats over the next decade, faces questions about technology integration and how it can afford tomorrow's weapon systems.