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Interview with Alex Soar, International Development Director, DSEI Japan, Clarion Events

ESD: Why has Clarion elected to take the DSEI event to Japan in 2019?
Soar: DSEI is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so it seems only fitting to celebrate that by launching the first ever DSEI outside of the UK.

We have been working towards DSEI Japan for some 4 years alongside our partners Crisis Intelligence who run the Japanese national pavilion at DSEI in London.

With the reinterpretation of the Japanese constitution several years ago and the relaxation of restrictions on defence imports and exports, it is an appropriate time to offer a new route to market for those focused on the Asia Pacific region.

Combined with Japan’s very real desire to improve their military capability in the face of regional frictions, the opportunity presented by the Japanese market is enormous for both Japanese and international industry.

ESD: What will DSEI Japan bring to the table that is not already on offer from other defence and security events in Asia?
Soar: Quite apart from the extremely high level conference that our Committee has put together for our delegates, it is extremely rare to see this number of Japanese defence companies in the same place at the same time. Certainly not in company with so many international prime contractors and exciting and innovative SMEs.

I feel that DSEI Japan will offer a unique perspective on not only Japan’s indigenous defence market, but also on how that market wishes to interact with the wider global defence market. Offering up opportunities for collaboration and having the support of the Japanese MoD is of course extremely useful, and we will look to deliver a JSDF audience that will not be present at other defence industry shows in the region.

ESD: What can attendees expect from the event?
Soar: A great gathering of both Japanese and international defence industry from across the entire supply chain. Alongside top flight educational content, showcases of current use equipment, international pavilions and representatives from the world’s leading defence and security companies.

ESD: How is the event coming together at this stage?
Soar: Very well. The exhibition is nearly full. With over a dozen countries represented, about 200 companies exhibiting and 75 VIP delegations invited, we expect the show to be extremely busy. The conference committee has been carefully selected from Japan’s leading military, academic and research organisations, and more than 20 speakers are confirmed to discuss a range of topics, including regional capabilities, requirements, and solutions, based around core themes over the three days.

ESD: How will DSEI Japan round out Clarion’s events portfolio?
Soar: We intend for DSEI Japan to, as it matures, act as a counterpoint to DSEI in the UK. Set in alternate years, each can act as a lynchpin for the regional defence industry, much as DSEI already does in London.

In a wider context, Clarion Defence & Security is clearly interested in the myriad opportunities available to a company such as ourselves in the wider Asian pacific markets.

This will certainly be an area of focus for the company moving forward.

This has already started to bear fruit with the launch of VIDSE, the first tri-service and security event to be held in Vietnam, which will run in March of 2020.

ESD: What are some of the key technologies / market opportunities / growth areas in the Japan market at present?
Soar: I think this is a two-part answer;

Firstly, Japanese companies are extremely keen to develop technology exchange partnerships with the global defence industry and are also rightly keen to develop export models of new or existing equipment to explore new markets with.

And secondly, from a purchasing perspective, the Japanese Government has announced a comprehensive programme of improvement and acquisition, including the expanded purchasing of F-35B as well as PEGASUS tankers.

The upgrades that have been announced to the IZUMO class helicopter carriers, to allow operation of F-35B represent a not insignificant amount of investment. As does the continuing purchase of Raytheon’s ballistic missile interceptors, and a sizable investment into armoured vehicles for the JGSDF in the form of Type 16 MCVs and Type 19 SPGs.
So this represents a very real commitment to increasing the combat capability of the JSDF and ensuring that they are fit to handle the rapidly evolving threat spectrum in the region.

ESD: What are your goals for DSEI Japan event beyond 2019?
Soar: In the first instance we want to ensure that DSEI Japan meets the needs and requirements of not only the Japanese MoD, but also our visiting delegations and our exhibitors and partners.

Looking ahead, we want to see the exhibition develop into the meeting place for all of Japan’s allies in the region, and act as the focal point for the defence industry in the Asia Pacific region.

The interview was conducted by PB.