Japan relaxes arms export ban to fortify defenseUpdated: 2014-04-02 22:03:30 (KST)
Japan is easing self-imposed restrictions on weapons exports, known as the three principles, that have been in place since the late 1960s in a bid to take a more active security role in the region.
"This new principle draws on what the previous 'three principles' sought to achieve, while allowing for the movement of defensive arms overseas in accordance with the security environment at hand."
The changes have China in mind.
They aim to increase Japan's influence in the region by helping countries currently embroiled in territorial disputes with China.
As expected, Beijing has expressed concern about the move.
"We request that the Japanese side learn lessons from history, earnestly respond to regional countries' strong concerns about the relevant issue, follow the trend of history, take the path of peaceful development and do more things that are conducive to the region's peaceful and stable development."
Korea's foreign ministry also had a word of caution for Tokyo.
"Neighboring countries may be concerned about the move, so the Japanese government should enact the changes as transparently as possible."
Japan has tried to reassure its neighbors by saying the exports of weaponry will mainly focus on non-lethal defense gear such as mine detectors and patrol ships.
Analysts say the ban removal will open up new markets for Japanese defense companies,.. and will make it easier for them to join multinational development projects for new weapons systems.
While there will be changes, there will also be restrictions.
The new guidelines will allow for the export of weapons only to allies and partners that agree not to sell them to third nations without Japanese approval.
The three principles were adopted back in 1967 and prohibited arms sales to communist, countries that were under UN sanctions or in armed conflicts.
It later expanded to include all weapons exports.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.
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