TOKYO: Itochu Corp., one of Japan’s leading conglomerates, has officially announced the termination of its collaboration with Israeli military technology firm Elbit Systems, marking the end of their signed agreement by the conclusion of February. The decision comes amidst growing international criticism and global boycotts against Israel, particularly in response to the ongoing bombardment of Gaza.
Chief Financial Officer Tsuyoshi Hachimura addressed the media, acknowledging the possibility of international backlash as a key factor influencing the termination. Media reports suggest that the move follows demonstrations in December outside Itochu’s Tokyo headquarters, where various groups protested against the collaboration and initiated a campaign urging a boycott of Israel, led by pacifists and anti-gun collectives.
Critics cited Japan’s “peace constitution” in condemning the agreement between Itochu Aviation, Elbit Systems, and Nippon Aircraft. Hachimura clarified that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Elbit Systems was initiated in response to a request from the Ministry of Defense, aiming to import defense equipment deemed necessary for Japan’s security. He emphasized that the decision was not a result of involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The announcement coincides with the International Court of Justice’s ruling on January 26, ordering Israel to take all measures to prevent genocide in Gaza. Hachimura noted that Itochu had already suspended new activities related to the MoU, aligning with the Japanese government’s support for the role of the International Court of Justice.
As the global community watches closely, the termination of this collaboration underscores the delicate balance companies navigate when engaged in partnerships that could be perceived as politically sensitive in the context of ongoing geopolitical conflicts.