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Japan looking to ease weapons export ban

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed “unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine while visiting Kiev last month

Japan’s ruling coalition has held the first round of talks on reviewing the country’s strict weapons export rules on Tuesday, Kyodo news agency reports.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, which wants Tokyo to play a greater role in the global security arena amid the conflict in Ukraine, is pushing for the rules on overseas transfers of defense equipment and technology to be eased.

Under the Constitution, which was drawn up after Japan’s defeat in World War II, weapons can only be supplied to a foreign country if it jointly develops them with Japan or produces them.


However, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, has resisted the proposed changes, arguing that the arrival of Japanese arms in the international market would go against the country’s policy of pacifism and escalate conflicts around the globe.

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“I hope our discussions will set a concrete direction for issues regarding defense equipment transfers,” Itsunori Onodera, the former Japanese defense minister who now heads the LDP’s research commission on national security, said as the parties met in Tokyo.

During the discussions, Komeito’s representative, Shigeki Sato, reiterated his party’s stance that the sides should not compromise “the postwar path of Japan as a peace-loving nation,” as cited by Kyodo.


The talks were unable to break the deadlock, with the LDP and Komeito agreeing to hold a second meeting after the country’s Golden Week holidays, which end in early May.

In the year since the outbreak of the conflict between Kiev and Moscow, Japan has supplied protective equipment such as bulletproof vests and helmets to Ukraine. Tokyo has also provided Kiev with more than $6 billion in financial aid and imposed sanctions on Russia. However, the Japanese Constitution has prevented the country from sending weapons and ammunition, as many Western nations have.

During a surprise visit to Kiev last month, Kishida assured President Vladimir Zelensky of Japan’s “unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine. He also said that the two countries have agreed to upgrade their bilateral ties to ‘special global partnership’.

Earlier this month, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said in an interview with Reuters that Seoul might begin sending weapons to Ukraine if the conflict escalates. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now the deputy head of the country’s Security Council, warned that if this happens, Moscow could supply North Korea with state-of-the-art arms.


READ MORE: South Korea downplays claims it could arm Ukraine – media

Shortly afterwards, another report came out in Reuters, citing an unnamed South Korean official, who insisted that Yoon was speaking “in hypothetical terms” and that Seoul had no intention of jeopardizing its ties with Moscow.

April 26, 2023 at 02:15PM


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