Japanese gov't relaxes ban on arms exports amid criticism
The Japanese government on Friday lifted its ban on exports of arms and ammunition manufactured under license from foreign companies to their countries, and conditionally to third countries.
The controversial change was brought up under the revised Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology and the Implementation Guidelines.
Under the amended document, the government allows weapons made in Japan under foreign license, including completed products and components, to be shipped to the country that the licenser is based.
Japan, under previous rules, could only export components of arms and was prohibited from delivering completed products.
In the wake of the revision, the nation is now preparing to ship Patriot air defense missiles to the United States for the first such shipments, according to local media outlets.
The transfer of finished products was not included this time, due to opposition from Komeito, the junior member of Japan's ruling coalition, Jiji Press reported on Friday.
The Japanese government at the end of last year decided to update three security and defense-related documents including the National Security Strategy, marking a significant change to its post-war security policies despite wide opposition.
Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, in an editorial earlier, criticized that "the core philosophy underlying Japan's basic policy principles concerning arms exports is that as a nation whose constitution upholds pacifism, it should not export arms that fuel international conflict."
"The government must not allow these principles to be eroded gradually to open the door to exports of deadly weapons," it added.