Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before a Cabinet meeting on March 4 (Koichi Ueda)

Japan plans to supply hard-hit Ukraine with defense equipment, such as bulletproof vests, gloves, tents and helmets.

The National Security Council was expected to immediately discuss with relevant ministries how to provide the defense supplies to Ukraine, which has been under heavy bombardment by Russian forces, sources said March 4.

The Japanese government has already pledged about $100 million (11.5 billion yen) in loans to Ukraine to support its efforts to counter the Russian military invasion. Another $100 million is expected to be provided for humanitarian assistance.

Japan had long banned exports of all defense equipment.

But in 2014, the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a decision to allow the export of such equipment if certain conditions are met, such as contributing to peace as well as the national security of Japan.