Japan considers loosening strict arms export restrictions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 1:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 11:32pm

Japan may allow exports of defence equipment to international organisations such as those involved in UN peacekeeping operations on condition they do not take sides in conflicts, Kyodo reported yesterday.

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan is reviewing various aspects of defence, including its self-imposed ban on weapons exports.

But resentment of Japan's wartime aggression runs deep in both China and South Korea and any decision by Japan to become more active militarily is likely to cause tension. The government is also considering easing rules on the transfer of its defence equipment to third parties, Kyodo said.

Under current rules, countries buying defence equipment from Japan need to get Japan's approval before they can transfer it to a third party.

Defence contractors that could benefit from any loosening of the export ban include Mitsubishi and Kawasaki.

Abe, who took office at the end of 2012, aims to lift constraints placed by Japan's post-war pacifist constitution on its military.

Article 9 of the constitution, renounces the right to wage war.