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In March 2023, ESD interviewed Clarion Defence and Security, the organisers of DSEI Japan. Answers to ESD’s questions were provided by James Samuel, Director of DSEI Japan. James started his career at Reed Exhibitions back in 2001 with senior leadership positions at UBM, Tarsus and GovNet. James is currently working at Clarion Events where he led and managed the Revo Business before assuming a Director position sitting on the board within Clarion Security and Defence. This role sees James responsible for the delivery and strategic growth of the DSEI Japan brand as well as launching and leading the Digital channels, content creation and data functions across the division. James is also a senior director responsible for the delivery of Clarion’s globally leading event DSEI.


Q: How has DSEI Japan evolved since previous years?

A: It is fair to say the event is on a strong growth trajectory. A lot has happened in the four years since the event was last in Japan and the growth of the event is testament to Japan’s presence on the world stage. We are expecting a 25% increase in total visitors from the first in 2019 and this is the first time in my 22 years of working in events that an event I have been working on has completely sold out. We will have 70 official overseas delegations compared to just 20 in 2019 as well as a further enhanced representation from our Japanese VIPs.

Q: This year’s DSEI Japan conference seems to have a particular focus on automation, reconnaissance, and C4I. What informed this selection?

A: This is an unprecedented time for the Japanese defence industry, an industry primed and ready to surge to the forefront of the global defence trade. The conference agenda is being led by the Executive Committee, consisting of many of those responsible for the opening of commerce channels.

The reasoning behind the decision to focus on automation, reconnaissance and C4I is probably more of a question for the Executive Committee but I think it’s a demonstration of how technology is really driving defence forward and its vital for it to keep up with the pace of change.

Q: In terms of first-time exhibitors at DSEI Japan, are most of them coming from a specific region or sector?

A: There will be a very large US presence at the show and also significant number of Australian exhibitors. Nations with major interests in the Indo-Pacific are unsurprisingly well represented at the show.

We have strong Japanese representation at the show too, with over 100 exhibitors from Japan from start-ups, emerging tech, heavy industry and defence supply chain represented.

Q:  Are there any key highlights of DSEI Japan that you would be interested in pointing out to our readers?

A: We are very excited about our stellar line up of speakers. On the first day of the conference we will have an address from the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP about the new Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP). Also making contributions throughout will be: Ambassadors to Japan from the US, the UK and Ukraine, Lieutenant General Jiro Hiroe, Director, Training Evaluation Research and development Command, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), and Air Vice-Marshal John Monahan, Director, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, UK Strategic Command. The programme is packed with fascinating speakers and a free-to-attend seminar programme with over 26 sessions led by both military and international manufacturers.

I am sure there will be a lot of buzz around the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) feature stand that will demonstrate what collaboration between governments can achieve. It will showcase new partnership and ambitious endeavour between the UK, Japan, and Italy to deliver the next generation of combat air fighter jets. Due to take to the skies by 2035, the ambition is for this to be a next-generation jet enhanced by a network of capabilities such as uncrewed aircraft, advanced sensors, cutting-edge weapons and innovative data systems. It is also a great opportunity for the world’s supply chain to see how they can play their part in delivering this exciting programme.

Q: Japan has traditionally preferred its domestic industry when it comes to defence procurement, have you seen signs of this beginning to shift recently?

A: Broadly the show has three key aims: to provide the Japanese Ministry of Defence and Japanese buyers a chance to speak with international companies, Japanese companies to be able to meet with international MODs and delegations and to act as a platform for critical bi-lateral meetings.