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After having struck down last April the long-standing government policy that effectively banned Japan’s export of weapons, the Abe administration appears bent on establishing a system to increase arms exports. Although its actions have not roused much public attention, it could result in accelerating a turnaround from the national policy of avoiding involvement in military conflicts abroad through weapons exports. The move therefore should be closely monitored.

In mid-December, the Defense Ministry launched a panel of experts to discuss measures to help not only Japanese firms that want to export weapons or develop defense equipment with other nations, but also the countries that want to buy Japanese arms. The measures under consideration reportedly include using the state’s fiscal investment and loan program to provide low-interest loans to weapons manufacturers, giving subsidies to such firms, extending low-interest loans to developing countries that want to purchase arms from Japan, helping to maintain or repair exported Japanese weapons, training military personnel how to handle the weapons that their countries have bought from Japan, and even allowing the Japanese government to purchase weapons from Japanese firms and then to supply them to developing nations.

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