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The head of Boeing Co.’s defense division on Wednesday welcomed recent indications that Japan is moving toward lifting its self-imposed arms export ban, saying it would help pave the way for the firm to use Japanese products worldwide.

If the ban is lifted, “the prices (Japanese defense-related firms) charge the (Japanese) government will go down because they will be able to amortize development costs over larger production lots,” Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive of Boeing Co.’s integrated defense systems, told reporters at the company’s Japanese headquarters in Tokyo.

He was referring to a recent recommendation by an advisory panel to the prime minister that Tokyo should ease its ban on arms exports. Albaugh’s view that entry into the international market can enhance the competitiveness of the Japanese defense industry echoes opinions voiced in domestic business circles.

“From Boeing’s perspective, we use Japanese manufacturers and subcontractors for much of what we do in this country, but we are prohibited from doing that outside this country,” he said.

The abolition of the ban “would help us because (Japanese companies) build good products,” he said. “It will allow us to bring the best of Japan to defense marketplaces around the world.”

Albaugh is in Japan for Japan Aerospace 2004, an industry show being held in Yokohama through Sunday.

Boeing, whose defense division is a $30 billion business worldwide, rakes in between $300 million and $500 million annually through its business in Japan.

It works with large domestic defense contractors such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which makes F-15J fighter jets under license.

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