Japan’s cabinet decided and officially announced as comment of Chief Cabinet Secretary on Dec 27, 2011 that Japanese government effectively lift a government policy of prohibiting weapons shipments that has banned Japanese arms makers export military items for joint development of military technology. This government policy change to abandon the Cold War-era restrictions was decided because Japan seeks to minimize costs for developing and manufacturing advanced military technology in areas such as a joint development program of jet fighters with the U.S. While there have been case-by-case exceptions in the past, such as return shipment to originating country, this decision is first major revision since the ban was introduced in 1967 and tightened in 1976. Japan’s commitment to refrain from arms exports, declared in its so-called “Three Principles”, was designed to prevent weapons shipments to the communist bloc at the height of the Cold War, as well as to countries under United Nations arms embargoes and war zones. Although the revision has been hotly debated for years, that proposal has been pending by strong opposition from a minority partner in Japan’s coalition government.
While Japan’s government policy is changed accordingly, the export related law and regulations such as Foreign Export and Foreign Trade Law and following Orders and Notifications are not expected to be amended. The basic policy to authorize export license of military items continue to be denial, and only for exceptional cases such as co-development of arms with U.S. and allies, the license may be granted with strict end-use review by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (“METI”) which is export licensing government authority in Japan. In order to prevent proliferation and diversion risk to concerned countries, very strict license review by METI is likely to be conducted. From trader’s point of view, relax of prohibiting export of military item is likely to be limited effect only to the government involved transactions.
(Resource - Japanese: http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/tyokan/noda/20111227DANWA.pdf )
(Resource - English: http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/noda/topics/201112/20111227DANWA_e.pdf )