Day: Sunday, 16 March 2014 @ 21:03

Editorial – Japan to ease defence equipment export

PM Abe seeks to review the “Three Principles on Arms Exports” and replace those with the “Three principles on transferring defense equipment”. So what are those “Three Principles on Arms Exports” and why we need to review those.

Three Principles on Arms Exports are
1. Do not sell weapons to the countries of the communist block
2. Do not sell weapons to the countries where the arms export is forbidden by the UN
3. Do not sell weapons to the countries that have international conflicts or are on the brink of such conflict

These rules have been created in 1967 and since then there were a number of exceptions introduced especially to allow Japan to cooperate with US on weapons production. It all became hard to maintain.

Problems with the Three Principles on Arms Exports
1. The communist bloc is no more, so this rule is obviously outdated.
2. This rule is very narrow, and would become meaningless in the nearest future with the UN role diminishing over the time.
3. And this rule basically places a big NO-GO sign on any weapons exports
Plus we have 21 exceptions. And all this mess needs to be maintained.

Abe’s administration suggests to scrap the old Principles and introduce new ones that would reflect the current international situation

The proposed “Three principles on transferring defense equipment”
1. Do not sell to the countries, which are acting against world peace and security
2. Cases of export will be limited and strictly scrutinized
3. Sell only to the countries that guarantee that the equipment will be used only for the purpose announced and will not be transferred to the third parties

This is still too many restrictions, but perhaps this is maximum that PM Abe could propose in the current political situation.

It was very weird to observe the reaction of some opposition parties in the parliament to this proposed change. Absolutely all discussions revolved around the “peace-loving Japan”. They claimed that the international image of Japan as a pacifistic country will be ruined and Japan will become the “merchant of death”. Nobody brought up the topic of national interests and the international challenges Japan is facing. They are just afraid of how Japan will be looked upon. Absolutely incomprehensible approach.

So, just who should be the first recipients of the Japan defense equipment? Of course, the countries that have regional conflicts with China. Philippines and Vietnam could become the pilot projects. Japan could even open credit line for these countries. This will certainly pay off even in the mid-term.

No wonder China already opposes this ‘militaristic move’… right after increasing its own defense budget by 12.2% to total $132 billion. And we must remember that this is only the publicly announced figure. The real increase is most certainly more than that.

The PM Abe’s proposed change is very likely to go through unchanged as ever careful Komeito is showing the signs of giving in.

by naokawa