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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Japan is easing restrictions on arms sales in an effort to boost high-tech industry and cut the cost of acquiring future weapons for its self-defense force.

The export restrictions, in place since 1967, prevented Japanese companies from developing weapons with countries other than the U.S.

The changes, announced Tuesday, allow Japan to supply military equipment for humanitarian missions and Japanese businesses to participate in multinational weapons projects with the U.S. and security partners such as European nations and Australia.

Tsuyoshi Yano, a spokesman for Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said the change would help cut the massive cost of developing new weapons.

Defense expert Ralph Cossa, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Hawaii, agreed that the change would cut the cost of developing and producing military equipment.

“Any military product made in Japan costs four times as much as anywhere else because the Japanese don’t do it in volume,” he said. “It (allowing more arms exports) is a step towards becoming a more normal country in the international market place.”

Cossa said he expects Japan’s defense exports to complement the efforts of its defense partners.

“The Japanese are very good in the avionics area and missile defense,” he said .

From staff reports

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