The government is set to announce an exception to its longstanding weapons embargo by allowing exports of Japanese manufactured parts for the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jet. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is set to make a statement anytime now, as per sources.
The main concern with this impending announcement is that it might conflict with Japan’s policy of staying out of matters that can aggravate international conflicts. Israel in particular is in the list of countries expected to acquire the F35s and it is currently in the middle of heightened tensions with its Middle East neighbours. It has been reported that Suga will emphasize that allowing the export of parts to third country will not be contrary to the arms export ban because it is Japan and the US who will control shipments. In fact, it will enhance the country’s national security.
In 1967, then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato introduced the banning of weapons exports to communist countries, countries subject to arms embargoes under U.N. resolutions and nations that were in international conflicts. In 1976, this became a blanket ban. A few exceptions have been made, usually to accommodate the United States. The latest easing of the ban was to ensure Japan’s participation in joint weapons development with other countries to ensure international peace in November 2011. Just last year, a deal was signed with the US for the purchase of four F-35 jets equipped with cutting-edge technology to evade radar detection. This is part of the eventual procurement of 42 F-35 fighters for the Air Self-Defense Force.
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