Saturday, November 20, 2004

Japan says yes to arms exports

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld welcomed Japan's
policy to relax its arms export control when he met with
Japanese Defense Agency Director General Yoshinori Ono.

The Japanese government has worked out a plan which will
break through the longtime three arms export control
principles and strengthen cooperation with the United
States in weapons development and production, the Asahi
Shimbun reported Friday.

Under the plan, Japan will allow weapons development and
production with the United States or such activities in
US-led multinational projects, the major daily said.

Japan can also export equipment under the circumstance
of international operations, including fighting
terrorism or pirates.The items include helmets, body
armors, vehicles, used warships.

Announced in 1967 by then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato,
the three principles stipulate that Japan shall "not
export weapons to communist states, to states to which
arms exports are prohibited by UN resolution, or to
states involved in armed conflicts."

Further, former Prime Minister Takeo Miki announced in
1976 that Japan would not export weapons to any country.

The plan was drawn up in consideration that Japan and
the United States are currently teamed up in developing
ballistic missile defense systems, and the private
sectors are urging for easing controls to maintain
competitiveness technically in the world. In addition,
there are concerns that it is difficult for Japan to
independently develop necessary high-tech arms, the
paper said.

The initiative could be included in a new defense
program outline which is expected to be inked by the
cabinet later this month or early December, it said,
adding that the opposition parties are sure to bring up
argument against it.

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