Government seeks easing arms export ban

The government on November 19 presented the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties with a plan calling for a drastic relaxation of the current ban on arms exports.

The plan, if approved, will mark a 180 degree change in Japan's policy.

Japan established the "Three Principles on Arms Exports" (prohibiting arms sales to communist countries, to countries on which the United Nations imposes an arms trade embargo, and to countries involved in or likely to be involved in international conflicts) in 1967. But successive Japanese governments have applied the ban to all foreign countries.

Under the government plan, components needed by international joint arms development and weapons linked to "international cooperation" in fighting terrorism will no longer be banned. It also promotes Japan's participation in the development and production of missile defense systems and other multinational arms development projects.

The government intends to approve the final draft plan for easing the arms export ban in early December. (end)

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