Draft says Japan may allow arms exports to secure sea lanes

Feb. 25, 2014 at 11:39 PM
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TOKYO, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A Japanese government draft proposes allowing exports of arms and technology if they help enhance the country's security.

A draft of new guidelines prepared by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says such exports would be allowed to countries along sea lanes to ensure the safe delivery of Japan's critical imports, Kyodo News reported.

The draft also calls for offering repair facilities to U.S. military planes as part of an effort to strengthen Japan's defense cooperation with the United States.

The guidelines draft, to be presented to the Cabinet next month for approval, would ease Japan's self-imposed restrictions on arms exports, marking a policy shift in the country's "three principles."

Under these principles, Japan cannot have arms deals with Communist countries, with countries under United Nations sanctions, or with countries engaged in international conflicts. The principles were enacted in 1967 and since then have led a virtual ban on all arms exports.

Some critics have warned against making any change in the principles dealing with arms exports or in Japan's post-World War II pacifist policy, saying Japanese-made weapons and technology could then be used in global conflicts.

In 2011, Japan relaxed the rules to allow exports for humanitarian and peaceful purposes, and to make it easier to participate in joint development and production of weapons.

Under the new guidelines, Kyodo said, Japan would not allow arms exports if they clearly undermine global peace and security. They would also require the government to impose strict checks on the transfer of arms.

They would allow arms exports when Japan joins an international joint development project in which other countries contribute parts. Kyodo said that could take care of projects such as the F-35 stealth fighter jet being developed by a U.S.-led consortium.

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