I can see both sides of this. Japan will likely become the second largest by number operator of the F-35 and it makes sense to them to go through this process and allow them to influence future requirements as well as receive industrial share. It also makes sense to deny Japan entry into the program because the existing nations have been at it awhile and rightly feel they deserve the opportunity for their respective industries to benefit from the program now it is stable and successful.
If Japan had requested this in 2014/15, right when the program had some high profile speedbumps, they probably would have been successful but I think it is beyond that now. Japan wants to be an official F-35 partner. The Pentagon plans to say no.
https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia ... to-say-no/
Japan has formally expressed interest in joining the F-35 program as a full partner, but the Pentagon plans to shoot down that request, Defense News has learned.
Sources say Japan’s request to join the partnership creates major political headaches for the Pentagon, with fears it would cause new tensions among the international production base for the joint strike fighter and open the door for other customer nations to demand a greater role in future capability development.
In a June 18 letter from Japan’s Ministry of Defense to Pentagon acquisition head Ellen Lord, obtained by Defense News, Atsuo Suzuki, director general for the Bureau of Defense Buildup Planning, formally requests information on how Japan could move from being a customer of the F-35 to a full-fledged member of the industrial base consortium.
“I believe becoming a partner country in F-35 program is an option,” the letter reads. “I would like to have your thoughts on whether or not Japan has a possibility to be a partner country in the first place. Also, I would like you to provide the Ministry of Defense with detailed information about the responsibilities and rights of a partner country, as well as cost sharing and conditions such as the approval process and the required period.”
“We would like to make a final decision whether we could proceed to become a partner country by thoroughly examining the rights and obligations associated with becoming a partner country based on the terms and conditions you would provide,” the letter concludes.
Lord, the Pentagon acquisition head, is scheduled to meet with Japanese officials this week, and the question of membership is expected to come up. But Tokyo won’t like the answer.