Abe to amend the arms exports rules
Japan’s government is eyeing the possibility of amending rules prohibiting the export of arms. According to reports in the Nikkei and Asahi Shimbun on 23 February, the government has submitted a draft proposal to the ruling coalition parties suggesting new rules which would permit exports, subject to strict screening under new rules, and would permit properly controlled exports to third countries, but would prohibit arms exports to countries “violating international peace and security.”
The current three principles on arms exports, which ban Japanese sales to countries which have communist governments, are involved in international conflicts or are subject to United Nations sanctions, were drawn up by the Eisaku Sato administration in 1967, and were expanded by Prime Minister Takeo Miki in 1976 when he pronounced the policy of “refraining in principle from the exports of arms to any countries”.
The draft is said to accord with the Abe administration’s concept of “proactive pacifism”. It will certainly be welcome by Japan’s defense industry as the current rules not only prohibit exports, but in practice also lock Japan out of all international joint development projects. It remains to be seen how the LDP’s coalition partner, the pacifist New Komeito Party will react to this move. The debate is sure to draw attention not only within Japan, but in the wider region and throughout the defense industry.