SEOUL – South Korea called Tuesday on Japan to have “the maximum level of transparency” in implementing newly adopted principles and guidelines on arms exports, a sentiment echoed later in the day by China.
“As a pacifist nation, Japan is expected to adhere to basic principles and implement them into a direction of contributing peace and stability in the international community in a careful manner,” South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young said during a news briefing.
Cho made the statement in response to Japan’s adoption of new principles and guidelines on arms exports earlier Tuesday, the first major overhaul in nearly half a century of its arms embargo policy, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set the stage for his country to play a more active role in global security.
“The principles should be carried out with the maximum level of transparency in consideration of concerns held by neighboring countries,” Cho said.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing: “We pay high attention to this. We call on the Japanese side to learn from history and earnestly respond to neighboring countries’ strong concerns.”
Hong said Japan not only needs to pursue “peaceful development” but also it must “do more” for the region’s peace and stability.
But despite concern the policy change will hurt Japan’s status as a pacifist state, it effectively removed the all-out ban imposed during the Cold War and opened the way for arms exports under certain conditions.
“Japan will make further contributions to peace and seek technological cooperation in the field of defense equipment with the United States and other countries,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said.
The newly adopted three principles on the transfer of defense equipment state that Japan will continue to embrace the basic philosophy of a pacifist state that abides by the U.N. Charter.
Under the new principles, Japan will prohibit the export of weapons to countries involved in conflicts. The ban would also apply when exports violate U.N. resolutions.
Japan will allow arms exports only if they serve the purpose of contributing to international cooperation and its security interests.
Even when exports are allowed, Japan plans to impose strict screenings and make the process transparent. The unstated use and transfer of Japanese equipment to third parties will also be kept in check.