Type 88 Surface-to-Ship Missile. Credit: 防衛省
Type 88 Surface-to-Ship Missile. Credit: 防衛省
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Japan’s Hidden Arms Trade

This paper questions the extent to which Japan’s long-held arms export ban (now lifted) has been adhered to, highlighting inconsistencies and loopholes. It argues for more transparency.

The essential problem when analysing Japan’s adherence to its “no arms trade” policy is the lack of transparency in the reporting of the export licences that have been granted for goods used in the defence industry. Although Japan makes annual submissions to UN databases regarding its exports, these submissions are voluntary and, as can be seen from the Comtrade data above, do not always tally with what other countries claim to be receiving from Japan. More importantly, unlike many other countries such as Germany, Finland, UK or USA the Japanese government provides no annual report detailing the licences that it has granted for arms or goods used in the defence industry. This means that the Japanese public and press has no access to information concerning what defence goods may have been exported and whether these exports comply with the spirit or the letter of a policy banning arms exports.

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