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Japan seeks to ease arms export rules to bolster defence

Published on Mar 12, 2014 9:39 PM

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan plans to ease self-imposed arms export curbs, ruling bloc lawmakers said on Wednesday, in the first potential overhaul of arms export policy in half a century likely to worry giant neighbour China.

The easing of export restrictions is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan to bolster Japan's military and strengthen security ties with allies such as the United States.

Such a move is expected to reinvigorate Japan's defence industry, which has been virtually excluded from the overseas market, but will likely concern China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan's past militarism run deep.

The restrictions have long made it difficult for Japanese defence contractors such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to keep abreast of technological development and drive down costs.

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