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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 December 19 - 2008 January 8  > Put an end to arms procurement at manipulated prices
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2007 December 19 - 2008 January 8 [POLITICS]

Put an end to arms procurement at manipulated prices

December 22, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

In the wake of the ongoing defense scandal involving politicians, military officials, and the Japanese and U.S. military industries, public criticism of the inflated prices at which the Defense Ministry is buying military equipment is growing.

The ministry is justifying the high prices by claiming that the production cost of arms is relatively high because they are purchased only by governments. That is not the case. The obvious reason lies in the give-and-take relationship between the Defense Ministry and the arms industry in which the ministry accepts whatever prices are given by arms companies and the relationship fostered under successive governments’ policy of making the military expenditure a “sanctuary”. As long as such a structure continues to exist, it is impossible to lower arms prices to reasonable levels.

The Defense Ministry plans to pay 21.6 billion yen in FY 2008 to buy an AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. The aircraft itself costs 8.3 billion yen, substantially more than Greece pays for the same aircraft. Moreover, the government intends to pay an additional 13.3 billion yen per aircraft in order to bear the burden of a total of 40 billion yen that Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. had invested to produce the aircraft under license from Boeing.

The Defense Ministry initially planned to purchase 62 AH-64Ds, but the number has been reduced to 13, including 10 already purchased because Boeing discontinued production. Since Fuji cannot make the profits as it initially expected, it has inflated the price. It is absolutely unacceptable to use tax money in order to cover the losses of a private company. Fuji must ask Boeing for compensation.

At issue here is the government stance of accepting whatever arms companies say.

In 1995, Fuji tried to sell the T7 trainer at 550 million yen each. Three years later, however, in a bid in which a Swiss company also took part Fuji offered to sell it at half the price.

In the December 13 House of Councilors Defense Committee meeting, Japanese Communist Party representative Inoue Satoshi revealed that 16 companies inflated their bills by a total of 114.3 billion yen between 1988 and 2004. This figure is still modest since it does not include the padded billings by Yamada Corporation, an arms dealer under investigation for the defense scandal.

It is also unacceptable for Japan to bear whatever cost the United States demands in regard to the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. The government is willing to spend 25.5 billion dollars to construct 3,500 houses for U.S. military personnel in Guam under the pretext of relocation of an Okinawa-based Marine unit.

The government agreed with the U.S. to spend the extraordinarily high cost of 80 million yen per housing unit by simply following U.S. cost estimates, then Prime Minister Abe Shinzo disclosed last May. The government has never checked the accuracy of the U.S. demand, showing how subservient it is.
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