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Japan relaxes arms export regime to fortify defence

Published on Apr 1, 2014 9:47 AM

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan eased its weapons export restrictions on Tuesday in the first major overhaul of arms transfer policy in nearly half a century, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to fortify ties with allies and bolster the domestic defence industry.

In a move likely to anger China, where bitter memories of Japan's past militarism run deep, the government decided to allow arms exports and participation in joint weapons development and production when they serve international peace and Japan's security.

That is a shift from a decades-old policy of banning all weapons exports in principle, although quite a few exceptions to the rule have been made over the years, such as the transfer of arms technology to the United States, Japan's closest ally.

"This is beneficial for Japanese companies in that they can take part in joint development and joint production and have access to cutting-edge technology," Takushoku University Professor Heigo Sato said.

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