• Kyodo

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Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has signed a contract with the Philippines to deliver an air radar system, marking the first export of a new, complete defense product since Japan's long-held arms trade ban was eased in 2014, the government said Friday.

Mitsubishi Electric will transfer four radars based on a system employed by the Self-Defense Forces for about $100 million (¥10.7 billion), the Defense Ministry said. The radars, which can detect approaching fighter jets and missiles, are expected to improve Manila's surveillance and monitoring capabilities.

"Promoting cooperation with the Philippines on defense equipment is important to secure peace and stability in the region as well as in our country," the ministry said in a statement. "The conclusion of this contract is extremely significant."

"The transfer of (defense) equipment will strengthen Japan's defense industry," Defense Minister Taro Kono told a news conference.

Japan is stepping up defense and security cooperation with the Philippines, one of the countries involved in territorial disputes with China, which has been increasing its military presence in the South China Sea.

Since Japan removed in 2014 its all-out arms export ban imposed during the Cold War, it has exported parts for the PAC-2 mobile missile defense interceptors, produced under license in Japan, to the United States but until now has not exported any complete, newly made defense product.

In the policy change, the government adopted three principles on the transfer of defense equipment amid concerns that easing its arms trade policies could hurt Japan's status as a pacifist state.

The principles state that Japan will continue to embrace the basic philosophy of a pacifist state that abides by the U.N. Charter and allow arms exports only if they serve the purpose of contributing to international cooperation and its security interests.

Japan will still prohibit, however, the export of weapons to countries involved in conflicts and the ban will also apply when exports violate U.N. resolutions.

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