Defense Agency Director General Ishiba Shigeru said that Japan needs to consider lifting the three government principles banning arms exports.
(Note: The “Three Principles on Arms Export” was set out by then Prime Minister Sato Eisaku in answer to a question in the Diet on April 21, 1967. This policy bans arms sales to communist bloc countries, countries to which the export of arms is prohibited under UN resolution, and countries involved in or likely to become involved in international conflicts.)
Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichiro and Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda Yasuo have practically endorsed Ishiba’s suggestion if it is concerned only with missile defense.
Late last year, the Koizumi Cabinet decided to introduce the U.S.-led missile defense program. It also concluded that a review of Japan’s ban on arms exports to the United States is needed in connection with the missile defense program.
Taking advantage of this, Ishiba is embarking on the road to international arms sales.
Japan in 1976 decided to expand the scope of application of the arms sales ban and formulated the Three Principles of Weapons Export prohibiting arms sales to not only countries in conflict but all countries throughout the world. The prime minister at the time explained that the ban accords with the constitutional principle.
The Constitution firmly stands for a peaceful settlement to international conflicts by declaring renunciation of “the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” This represents Japan’s constitutional idea that Japan seeks to maintain its peace and security through achieving a world without war or any armed conflicts. Japan’s ban on arms sales is a natural reflection of this position.
On May 18, 1983, the Cabinet Legislative Bureau director stated that the Three Principles are in accord with the “Constitution’s pacifism” and that they “contribute to maintaining the peace and security of Japan and the international community.”
The Three Principles have been supported by the Japanese people’s wish for peace and their resolution to prevent Japan from internationally disseminating the means of war or armed conflicts.
The government review of the principles completely runs counter to the deep public concern about the weapons sold by the United States and other major powers helping the spread of armed conflicts and transferred even to those who are causing countless tragedies in many parts of the world.
The Koizumi Cabinet’s review of the arms export-ban and the Defense Agency director general’s slander on the Three Principles as Cold War mentality are in contravention of the Constitution and the government statements, including those in the Diet. All this shows how extraordinary the Koizumi Cabinet is.
In the “Cold War” era, the United States and the Soviet Union were competing with each other for arms sales while engaging in a nuclear arms race. If the government says that the “Cold War is over”, Japan should make efforts to achieve a world without a nuclear arms race or arms sales competition.
However, the LDP government in the 1980s accepted the U.S. request for Japan’s military technologies to be used by the United States for its weapons development, thus starting Japan’s supply of such technologies and military technology exchanges between the two countries. Arguing that the U.S. needs to be distinguished as Japan’s military alliance partner, the government thus made a breakthrough in its arms export policy.
The Koizumi Cabinet has upgraded the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to serve as a global military alliance and is participating in the missile defense program that will renew the nuclear arms race. What’s more, it has used this move to gut the arms sales ban and had the Defense Agency director general announce a review of the arms export policy to allow weapons to be sold throughout the world. How dangerous it is for the government to endorse the nuclear arms race and involve itself in an arms export competition.
Don’t shut eyes to global current
No one in the world, including the Japanese people, wants Japan to become a major arms exporter.
The U.S. Bush administration is deeply isolated internationally because of its lawless Iraq War. The Koizumi Cabinet is not only dispatching the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq in support of the U.S. preemptive strike strategy, but rushing to lift the government’s arms export ban. This will cause more difficulty in its diplomacy and economic relations with the rest of the world.
Maintaining the principles of the arms export ban and the constitutional principles of peace is prerequisite to securing the future of Japan. (end)
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