According to Nikkei newspaper on May 24, 2009, Japanese government decided on a course to relax the ban of arms export. Japanese government has been taking a tough stance against arms exports. At present, arms exports are basically prohibited except for return shipment of foreign military items for repair or replacement, or for some specific export in accordance with a government-to-government agreement.
New policy will allow the co-development or co-manufacturing of weapons with allied countries, which could help efficient development of next generation jet fighter, or help reducing the military related cost. Otherwise, the cost for developing and maintaining the military equipments would be higher and heavy burden in national budget.
The Nikkei news don't report any change of FEFTL (Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law) and Export Trade Control Order. This direction change would be considered as internal policy change and the implementation of export license management may be modified in future.
(Source: Nikkei Net http://www.nikkei.co.jp/news/main/20090524AT3S2300Y23052009.html )
Overview of "Three Principles on Arms Export"
This policy is based on the statement the Japanese government made in the Diet in 1967, which is called "Three Principles on Arms Exports". This principle prohibits arms export to the following countries.
1) Communist bloc countries
2) Countries subject to arms export embargo under the UN Security Council's resolution
3) Countries involved in or likely to be involved in international conflict
Subsequently in 1976, the Japanese government expanded the policy by issuing following statement.
1) Arms export to countries to which the Three Principles applied shall not be permitted.
2) Arms export to countries to which the Three Principles does not apply would be also be restraint.
3) Export of weapon producing facilities shall be treated pursuant to arms export.
Japanese government further expanded the policy by prohibiting export of weapon-related technology as well. As a result, it is now prohibited to export arms and related items under Category 1 of the control list, which is described in the Export Trade Control Order Attachment List No. 1.
(Reference: Japan's Policies on the Control of Arms Exports http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/un/disarmament/policy/index.html )