Oppose easing arms sales ban -- Akahata editorial, November 22

The government has presented the ruling parties with a plan to relax the Three Principles on Arms Export which virtually bans all arms exports. The proposal includes approval regarding the Japan-U.S. joint development and production of a missile defense system, export of arms to the United States, and Japan's participation in U.S.-led multilateral joint development and production projects, and export of arms to counter terrorism.

The proposal is extremely dangerous as it will overturn the constitutional principles of peace and the government policy of not encouraging international disputes.

Discarding peace principles

The Three Principles on Arms Export was first announced in April 1967 by then Prime Minister Sato Eisaku in parliament as government policy concerning the enforcement of the Foreign Trade Control Law to the effect that Japan will not export arms to: the Communist bloc; countries to which arms export is prohibited under U.N. resolution; and countries involved in or likely to become involved in international conflicts. Prime Minister Miki Takeo's Cabinet developed the policy into a complete ban on arms export, stating that Japan will refrain from exporting arms to areas other than specified above in order for Japan as a pacifist country to avoid encouraging any international conflict (unified government view, February 27, 1976).

The resolution of plenary sessions of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors in March 1981 called on the government to be rigorous in defense of the Japanese Constitution's principles of a peaceful nation. The government has repeatedly stood in favor of this policy. Defense Agency Director General Miyashita Sohei in the House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting on April 14, 1992, said that the policy was formulated in order to prevent international conflicts in accordance with the peace-oriented Constitution. Although the Nakasone Cabinet began technological cooperation with the United States in 1983, the Three Principles on Arms Export has thus worked as part of the constitutional principles of peace and as a brake on arms export.

What the government is trying to do amounts to nullifying the ban on the arms export which is in accord with the constitutional principles of peace to enable Japan to export weapons to as many countries as possible, including the United States and its allies. The government policy serves the interests of the U.S. and the Japanese arms industry.

U.S.-Japan joint technological research on ballistic missile defense (BMD) has been underway since 1999. The aim of the Japanese government is to sell arms components to the U.S. military, anticipating that the project will reach the stage of joint development and production. This policy is also in accord with the report issued recently by the Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, the prime minister's private council.

Also, Henry Obering, director of the U.S. Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency, stated on October 26 that huge profits will be brought about by the joint MD development, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on November 19 welcomed the Japanese plan in talks with the Japanese defense chief.

If the three principles are eased, Japan's arms industry will be allowed to support the U.S. MD strategy and make enormous profits. This in turn will assist in the United States in carrying out its global military realignment plan under the Bush administration.

Arguing that Japan must support global efforts to counter terrorism and sea-jacks, the government insists that the arms sales should be allowed if they will be helpful in such efforts. This is in line with the U.S. government policy giving priority to realign and reinforce its military posture against terrorism while making stronger ties with its allies. Pushing ahead with arms exports under the pretext of fighting terrorism will pave the way for Japan to export arms to U.S. allies and other countries cooperating in wars on terrorism.

Defend the three principles

As indicated by an overwhelming majority of countries opposing the Iraq war, the world is seeking "a world without war." If Japan's arms industry becomes a major "merchant of death", it will help increase military disputes and go against the world current of peace. Let us oppose easing the three principles banning arms exports. (end)

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