Japan wants arms transfer registration system augmented

Japan will propose expanding the United Nations registration system for conventional arms transfers to include domestically produced weapons to promote transparency in assessing military capabilities of member countries, government officials said Feb. 6.

The officials, requesting they not be named, said the proposal will be made at an intergovernmental meeting of disarmament experts from 23 countries, including both developed and developing countries, scheduled for early March in New York. The meeting will kick off a major review of the U.N. registration system for the transfer of conventional arms. The system was established in 1991 at the joint initiative of Japan and the then European Commission.

Under the registration system, which formally started in 1992, more than 90 countries report their annual export and import volumes for seven categories of conventional arms, including fighter aircraft, tanks, warships, missiles and cannons. Developed countries, including Japan, have insisted that the system be expanded to include both domestic procurement and holdings of such conventional arms, while developing countries have been opposed to any such move, apparently because they want to keep the data on such matters secret as much as possible.

The developed countries, including China, India and Pakistan, have insisted that the number of countries reporting transfers of conventional arms be increased before registration on domestic production and holdings is made compulsory.