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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki denied Monday that the government will review its arms export controls with a view to relaxing them, as suggested last week by Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma.

Shiozaki also said the government does not intend to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, against the backdrop of Kyuma’s separate remarks that the government will study a new law to send the SDF to help the war-torn country rebuild.

“Our basic idea is that the government will think about our basic principles as a peaceful country and firmly maintain the policy of continuing to deal carefully” in terms of reviewing the arms export ban, Shiozaki said.

“The Three Principles on Arms Exports is an extremely important policy for our country,” the top government spokesman said.

Last Wednesday, Kyuma called for looser arms export controls to enhance joint research and development of weapons between Japan and the United States in a speech at the Heritage Foundation.

“It is time to study whether the current situation is the way it should be,” Kyuma said. “It is costly to develop defense equipment and hard to do so by one country. We have to jointly carry out joint study and development.”

Japan’s Three Principles on Arms Exports, first adopted in 1967, ban exporting weapons to communist countries, as well as those under U.N. sanctions and those in international conflict. The government decided in 1976 to refrain from all exports regardless of destination.

In 2004, Japan eased the controls to allow exports related to missile defense to the United States by issuing a statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda. The statement also said whether to except other items, such as weapons development and production to fight terrorism or piracy, would be “studied on a case-by-case basis.”

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