武器輸出3原則 将来に禍根残す緩和見送り

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 11, 2010)
Foolish short-term view on arms exports
武器輸出3原則 将来に禍根残す緩和見送り(12月10日付・読売社説)

Has the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration already forgotten about the abysmal failure of its previous coalition government involving a political party that held a conflicting basic policy?

The government has decided not to clearly stipulate the three principles on weapons exports--which effectively ban arms deals with other countries--will be eased in the new National Defense Program Guidelines it will approve next week. Prime Minister Naoto Kan made the decision in consideration of the opposition Social Democratic Party, which he had asked for cooperation in steering the Diet. The SDP opposes any relaxation of the three principles.

The government had been leaning toward lifting the ban on weapons that would be exported for peace-building operations and to combat terrorism and piracy. It also planned to approve the joint development of weapons with Europe, South Korea and Australia as an extension of defense cooperation between Japan and the United States, and because appropriate export controls are firmly in place.


Appropriate policy

Such a policy shift would still fit nicely with the philosophy of "a pacifist nation." We think reviewing the weapons export ban policy is appropriate.

The export of weapons for other nations' peace-building efforts and to combat terrorism and piracy could contribute to global peace and stability. In addition, joining development programs of cutting-edge jet fighters and other weapons will be indispensable for maintaining domestic defense technologies and this nation's production base.

Cabinet ministers involved in defense matters and senior DPJ members were on the same page on this issue. However, the government got cold feet and made a political decision to put the handling of government affairs ahead of an important policy.

The Kan administration decided that in addition to the support of coalition partner People's New Party, it needs the SDP's cooperation to help pass key bills into law in the divided Diet. Having both parties onside will make it possible for the DPJ to pass bills into law with a second vote at the House of Representatives by overriding any rejection by the House of Councillors because the three parties will hold at least two-thirds of the members present.

However, cozying up the SDP could come back to haunt the Kan administration. The SDP's foreign and security policies bear little in common with those of the DPJ. This will certainly lead to serious problems in the future.

The SDP left the coalition government in disgust at the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district of Nago in the same prefecture. The SDP's position remains unchanged.


SDP vs Japan-U.S. alliance

We wonder how Kan can strike a balance between working with the SDP and deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance with his visit to the United States next spring and a bilateral joint statement to be issued during his trip.

SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima has gone so far as to say Japan will be a "merchant of death" if it softens the weapons exports principles. Her remark is nothing but an irrational, hot-button outburst.

Japan's security situation has become increasingly severe. This nation must face up to reality of the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program and missiles, as well as that country's military provocations, including the recent shelling of a South Korean island, and China's military buildup and overbearing approach to securing marine resources and expanding its territory.

With only a limited defense budget, Japan's security policy urgently needs to be revised and the Self-Defense Forces transformed into more effective units. Relaxing the weapons exports principles would be a major pillar of this overhaul.

We think cooperative ties between the DPJ-led administration and the SDP are doomed to crumble before long.

The government should take this into consideration. Even if the government shies away from clearly saying in the new defense guidelines that the three principles will be eased, it should at the very least mention problems inherent in the current principles and leave the door open to easing the ban in the future.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 10, 2010)
(2010年12月10日01時45分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-12-11 09:47 | 英字新聞

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