Japan's ruling bloc paves way for wider exports of defense items

Japan's ruling bloc on Wednesday paved the way for exporting weapons and ammunition manufactured in the country under overseas license to more nations, a source close to the matter said.

But Japan will remain unable to export weapons to a country where an "armed attack" has occurred, such as Ukraine and Israel, the source said.

The move comes as Japan has been aiming to ease its strict regulations on weapon exports in a bid to boost defense cooperation with like-minded countries amid the increasingly severe security environment due to threats from China, North Korea and Russia.

Japan has also been bolstering its security capabilities, pledging to almost double its annual defense spending to about 2 percent of gross domestic product over the next five years, on par with NATO members.

Currently, Japan can only export components of U.S.-licensed defense products to the United States and other security partners as its domestic rules ban it from shipping completed products abroad under its war-renouncing Constitution.

Based on their agreement, the Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the Komeito party, its junior coalition partner, will ask the government to amend related regulations, according to the source.

© Kyodo News