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Japan eyes relaxing weapons export ban under new stringent rules amid opposition

English.news.cn   2014-01-30 21:57:47

TOKYO, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament Thursday that the government will be adopting transparent and stringent rules when it comes to exporting arms as it sets about reviewing its long-held policy on its self-imposed weapons export ban.

During a plenary session in the Upper House of the National Diet of Japan, Abe said the government will carefully judge whether the exporting of weapons will be allowed, adding that a rigorous "screening process" will be implemented.

While stating that the government will be reviewing the principles on weapons exports, endorsed in 1967, Abe said that the principles of contributing to global peace will be adhered to under the Charter of the United Nations.

Japan's national security strategy unveiled in December, which the current government in the mid-term has earmarked a budget of 230 billion U.S. dollars for the buildup of Japan's forces over the next five years, as well as reviewing the nation's ban on weapons exports, has drawn flak from a number of factions both at home and abroad, who believe the moves run contrary to the nation' s pacifist policy.

The weapons export ban was heightened in the years thereafter in line with the nation's pacifist Constitution, although exceptions were made with weapons-related technologies being exported to the United States in 1983, and joint projects on anti- missile hardware were also conducted in collaboration with the United States.

But the current moves to relax the export ban have drawn the ire of some Japanese politicians and citizens, as well as neighboring countries favoring Japan's long-held pacifist stance, and has ignited concern and debate on the issue at political, national and international levels.

At the center of the debate is Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which forbids the use of force as a means to settling international disputes, but also prohibits Japan from maintaining an army, navy or air force.

But Abe has vowed that Japan will maintain its pacifist stance and said that the trade ministry will examine and make a ruling on each export case on an individual basis rather than openly selling weapons-related products in an open global market.

In addition the government has previously stated that weapons exports will be strictly limited to Japan's strategic allies, like the U.S., and that regulations on weapons exports will based on the fundamental premise that as a pacifist country Japan will aim to avoid fanning international conflicts.

Resistance to the move, however, has been voiced by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's coalition partner, New Komeito Party, which maintains opposed to Abe's moves to lift the weapons export embargo, as well as broader defense proposals that contravene the constitution, including Japan's right to collective self-defense and defending allies in situations involving armed conflict.

The party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, along with a number of opposition parties, as well as regular citizens, stands opposed to some of the latest moves by Abe's administration, which have been described by security analysts as Japan taking a more muscular approach to its defense at a time when increased diplomacy is being called for for the sake of peace and security in the Asia Pacific region.

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Editor: Tang Danlu
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