Japan eases arms export ban

The Japanese government on December 10 decided to relax the arms export ban established in 1967 in conformity with the constitutional principle of peace.

The decision, announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda Hiroyuki, will allow exporting Missile Defense (MD)-related equipment under the joint Japan-U.S. development and production plan in order to serve the U.S. preemptive strike strategy.

In 1967, Prime Minister Sato Eisaku's cabinet placed a ban on arms sales to "communist bloc" countries, countries to which arms sales are prohibited by the United Nations, and countries involved in or likely to become involved in international conflicts (Three Principles of Arms Export).

The latest change of rules will allow the government to examine arms export requests if they are aimed at serving measures to fight terrorism.

Commenting on the decision, Akahata on December 11 said that the government decision shows that Japan has been incorporated deeper into the U.S. Bush administration's missile defense program, including the joint development of a new generation interceptor missile.

However, Japan's participation in the missile defense project will hamper the effort to establish a peaceful East Asia, the paper warns.

As the only non-arms export country in the world, Japan chaired the July 2003 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms. However, the drastic change in arms export ban policy will damage international trust in Japan, Akahata reported. (end)

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