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Japan relaxes arms export ban

[ 2011-12-28 17:01]     字号 [] [] []  
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Japan said on Tuesday it will ease its self-imposed ban on weapon exports, which might threaten the country's Peace Constitution and lead it in the wrong diplomatic direction,analysts said.

Osamu Fujimura, chief cabinet secretary, announced the decision on Tuesday after the meeting of the Security Council of Japan, saying it is aimed at "reducing its national defensecosts".

Since World War II, Japan has tightly controlled its foreign weapons sales and further tightened the restrictions.

Now, the first change to Japan's arms export ban will allow Japanese companies to participate in multilateral research and development of arms and benefit its defense industry.

Under the new standards, Japan will be able to transport military equipment for missions of peace-building and international cooperation.

Japan will also be allowed to provide equipment, such as helmets and bullet-proof vests, to the limited number of countries in which its Self-Defense Forces are deployed.

The previous prime minister of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) proposed the policy change last year, but considering the need for cooperation with the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDP), it had been postponed. Since then, the proposal has remained under the spotlight.

Supporters of the move, especially Japan's major arms companies, say it will save the "dying" defense industry from becoming outdated.

The relaxation will also reduce military purchase and production costs and thus somewhat relieve the Japanese government from its heavy financial burden, especially after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan on March 11.

But critics believe the cabinet's decision threatened the Peace Constitution.

An editorial on Sunday in the Asahi Shimbun criticized Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's "thoughtless" move as "intolerable" and asked the government to pay more attention to deepening trust with regional neighbors.

Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific research center at China Foreign Affairs University, said that Japan's relaxation of the arms export ban will complicate security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Su said that Japan must have gained the approval of the US before it announced it was lifting the ban. This suggests that the two countries are working in coordination to adjust their Asia-Pacific strategy. So, the relaxation of the ban will have a negative effect on China.

Yang Bojiang, a professor of Japanese studies at the University of International Relations, also expressed concern about the possible profound impact of the policy.

Yang said that "the lifting of the ban paves the way for Japan's air and marine forces to upgrade their hardware capability”. So in the long term, it will pose threats to China.

Yang added that the change could possibly reshuffle the international arms trade, and Japan's competitiveness in electrical equipment for military use may squeeze Russia's market share.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Japan relaxes arms export ban

About the broadcaster:

Japan relaxes arms export ban

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.