Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s revision on its almost half a century old arms embargo policy paved the way for his nation to a play a greater role in global security. The move prompted South Korea’s Foreign Ministry to call for greater transparency. Speaking to a press briefing, Korean spokesperson Cho Tai Young said, “As a pacifist nation, Japan is expected to adhere to basic principles and implement them into a direction of contributing peace and stability in the international community in a careful manner.” He added, “The principles should be carried out with the maximum level of transparency in consideration of concerns held by neighboring countries.”
Meanwhile, China echoed the same belief as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, “We pay high attention to this. We call on the Japanese side to learn from history and earnestly respond to neighboring countries’ strong concerns.” Hong also noted that Japan must use the revised arms export policy to promote “peaceful development” and to “do more” for the region’s peace and stability.
The new policy removed the all-out ban imposed during the Cold War and allows weapon exports on certain conditions. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, “Japan will make further contributions to peace and seek technological cooperation in the field of defense equipment with the United States and other countries.” While new principles have been adopted, it states that Japan must still abide by the basic philosophy of a pacifist state under the U.N. Charter. Arms exports are prohibited to countries involved in conflict and under those where exports would violate U.N. resolutions. It will only be allowed if the objective is to contribute international cooperation and security. Japan vows to implement strict screenings and transparent process before it allows any arms transfer.