Ja­pan ‘ be­trays’ em­bargo on arms ex­ports

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD REVIEW - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tokyo will in­tro­duce a pol­icy later this month to loosen its em­bargo on weapons ex­ports, a move an­a­lysts said is “a ma­jor be­trayal” of Ja­pan’s post­war paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion.

The de­ci­sion to re­place the decades-long “three prin­ci­ples” on weapons ex­ports is a com­po­nent of hawk­ish Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s year­long ef­fort to help Ja­pan re­claim the sta­tus of a ma­jor mil­i­tary power, ob­servers said.

Ac­cord­ing to draft prin­ci­ples to con­trol arms ex­ports pre­sented to the rul­ing coali­tion on Thurs­day, the gov­ern­ment will per­mit weapons ex­ports as long as they “con­trib­ute to Ja­pan’s na­tional se­cu­rity” or meet other con­di­tions, Ja­panese news­pa­per Asahi Shim­bun re­ported.

NHK Tele­vi­sion said on Mon­day that the draft ver­sion, by re­plac­ing the three prin­ci­ples, may al­low “ma­chine guns to be equipped on pa­trol ves­sels of Ja­pan’s coast guard, and weapons to be ex­ported to South­east Asia”.

Wang Shan, a re­searcher on Ja­panese stud­ies at the China In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said Ja­pan’s na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy is “un­der trans­for­ma­tion”. As a re­sult, the de­ci­sion to re­move more re­stric­tions from its arms-em­bargo pol­icy will di­rectly fa­cil­i­tate Ja­pan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in transna­tional weapon de­vel­op­ment and pur­chases.

Tre­for Moss, for­mer ed­i­tor of Jane’s De­fence Weekly, warned that Abe “needs to demon­strate that he can make Ja­pan more se­cure with­out mak­ing it more mil­i­taris­tic”.

“As an ad­vo­cate of ‘ac­tive’ or ‘proac­tive’ de­fense, Abe wants to give the armed forces greater lee­way for ac­tion, and more dy­namic ca­pa­bil­i­ties with which to meet ex­ter­nal threats,” Moss said in a re­cent ar­ti­cle on The Diplo­mat mag­a­zine’s web­site.

Ja­pan’s “three prin­ci­ples” on arms ex­ports were in­tro­duced in 1967 and tight­ened into a vir­tual blan­ket ban in 1976.

They ban weapons ex­ports to com­mu­nist-bloc coun­tries, coun­tries sub­ject to arms ex­port em­bar­goes un­der United Na­tions res­o­lu­tions, and coun­tries in­volved in or likely to be in­volved in con­flicts.

Be­fore be­ing ousted by the now-rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party in 2012, Yoshi­hiko Noda’s Cab­i­net made ma­jor re­vi­sions on such prin­ci­ples in 2011, al­low­ing more lat­i­tude for weapons ex­ports than pre­vi­ous tweaks.

In Oc­to­ber, Tokyo al­lowed the ex­port of Ja­panese-made en­gine parts adopted by Ja­pan Self-De­fense Forces ships to the Bri­tish Navy as part of its lat­est at­tempt to over­turn the ex­ist­ing em­bargo.

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers in Tokyo have shown “a trend of cen­tral­iz­ing con­trols” — es­pe­cially those on de­fense poli­cies — to em­power the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, said Liu Jiangy­ong, an ex­pert on Ja­panese stud­ies and deputy dean of the In­sti­tute of Mod­ern In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

NHK said New Komeito, the ju­nior part­ner of the Ja­panese rul­ing coali­tion and a long-time ad­vo­cate of paci­fism, has de­manded pru­dence on this is­sue.

“The paci­fist voices within Ja­pan may suf­fer more heavy blows (by the trend). In con­trast, the right-wing forces are free from pow­er­ful re­stric­tions in Ja­panese laws,” Liu said.

But the em­bargo topic is now high­lighted by a chang­ing con­text of pub­lic opin­ion within Ja­pan, ob­servers said.

Sta­tis­tics shows that about 80 per­cent of in­ter­vie­wees be­lieve that “Ja­pan is un­der threat of for­eign coun­tries and may be dragged into a ma­jor war”, a per­cent­age much higher than in pre­vi­ous years, Wang said.

“Al­though Tokyo, un­til to­day, is still em­pha­siz­ing the de­fen­sive side of its pol­icy pur­suits, it is un­de­ni­able that it has shown a grow­ing des­per­a­tion for mil­i­tary buildup, and there­fore an in­creas­ing hos­til­ity against China,” Wang said.

In the era of then-prime min­is­ter Ju­nichiro Koizumi, Ja­pan had in­creased its fre­quency of mil­i­tary col­lab­o­ra­tion with the United States.

Ja­pan is quit­ting its sheer re­liance on the mil­i­tary pro­tec­tion pro­vided by the US, its tra­di­tional ally, Liu said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.