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Japan relaxes arms export ban

By Wang Chenyan (China Daily)

13:44, December 28, 2011

BEIJING - 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 defense costs".

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.

Moreover, "under the new standards, Japan will be able to transport military equipment for missions of peace-building and international cooperation," Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said, according to AFP.

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.

In a Nikkei Shimbun survey, 76.5 percent of the 3,055 respondents approved the relaxation of the ban, and 23.5 percent opposed it.

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