The Japanese government has changed a principle in the current arms export band and replaced it with a new one, prohibiting foreign troops participating in U.N. peacekeeping missions from getting ammunition supply. The change came in light of the controversy that Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force has supplied South Korean troops on a U.N. operation in South Sudan with bullets.
The government said that arms and ammunition supply could promote armed conflicts and would weaken Japan’s five principles for participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations, one of which the country’s “neutral policy.” It was also the government’s way of saying that the supply to South Korean troops was an uncommon occurrence. “The recent ammunition supply was a singular case and is separate from discussions about the Three Principles (on Arms Export),” said Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.
With a lot of recent peacekeeping missions being conducted in areas of strife and civil war, like South Sudan, the Japanese government is concerned that troops would be forced to participate in warfare against armed groups. And if Japanese Self-Defense Forces provide weapons to peacekeeping forces form other countries, it would be against the U.N.’s five principles for participating in operations, which state that all peacekeeping forces should take a neutral stance and use of weaponry and armaments are for the own protection of the peacekeepers only, and would indicate Japan’s involvement in armed conflicts, no matter how indirect it may be. The government’s review of the Three Principles on Arms Export may come to a halt should the new principle allow ammunitions supply to peacekeeping forces.