Japanese Govt. Offically Lifts Ban on Arms Exports
from Asahi Shimbun: Japan effectively lifted its three-decade self-imposed ban on weapons exports with Cabinet approval April 1 of the new “three principles of arms transfer.”
The previous Three Principles on Arms Exports was first enacted in 1967. In 1976, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Takeo Miki banned, in principle, arms exports to all countries.
When the government allowed exceptions to the export ban, the chief Cabinet secretary justified each case individually, issuing public statements explaining the reasons behind the government’s decision.
Under the new principles, Japan is still not allowed to export weapons to countries that violate international treaties by using prohibited arms, such as anti-personnel land mines and cluster munitions. Exports to countries under a United Nations arms embargo, such as North Korea and Iran, and those engaged in military conflicts, will also be banned.
The government will also be required to limit and thoroughly screen all arms exports and disclose information of its decision. It will also be obliged to ensure that exported weapons are not used for purposes other than the original intent or transferred to third countries.
Under the new principles, Japan is likely to export arms to the United States and other close allies, such as the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The new guidelines also aim to facilitate Japan’s joint development and production of weapons with those countries.
The revised guidelines will also enable the transfer of heavy machinery and other items that are used by Self-Defense Forces during peacekeeping operations to foreign countries.
The newly established National Security Council will participate in the screening of cases to determine whether exports should be allowed.
In cases of utmost importance, the industry minister and other Cabinet members will join the final decision-making process along with the prime minister, the chief Cabinet secretary, and the ministers of foreign affairs and defense, who comprise the new council.
When the decision is made to authorize arms exports through a ministerial meeting including non-NSC members, the individual cases will be announced to the public through, for example, a statement by the chief Cabinet secretary.