Japan tightens export rules for advanced tech to prevent military use

Advanced technologies will require prior approval even if the original transaction was for civilian use.

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The Japanese government is taking steps to tighten regulations on exporting advanced technologies, particularly those with potential military applications in countries like Russia and China. This strategic move comes amidst growing concerns in Japan about diversifying cutting-edge technologies for military purposes. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will require private firms to provide advance notification before exporting technologies such as quantum science to prevent their misuse in military endeavours.

Export controls will be expanded to cover cutting-edge technologies and non-cutting-edge fields that pose risks of being used in conventional weapons. The proposed amendment to the trade ministry ordinance will introduce penalties for violations, reinforcing existing regulations under the foreign exchange and foreign trade law. This includes strengthening the ‘catch-all regulation,’ which covers items not explicitly listed but deemed at risk of being diverted for weapons manufacturing.

Under the new regulations, firms exporting advanced technologies must notify the ministry of their intentions and undergo risk assessments. If concerns arise about the potential military diversion of the exported goods, permission from the ministry will be required. Furthermore, in response to evolving global security dynamics, even goods and technologies in fields not considered cutting-edge will be subject to approval if investigations suggest they could be repurposed for military use, as demonstrated by Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine.

To facilitate compliance, the ministry will provide firms with information on trading partners and regions posing risks related to military diversion. Additionally, clear criteria will be published to help firms assess the risk level of their transactions, reducing confusion and ensuring compliance with the law. These measures reflect Japan’s commitment to enhancing export controls and safeguarding the responsible transfer of advanced technologies in a rapidly evolving global security landscape.