Monday, May 7, 2007

Kyuma's false alarm

While in Washington, Defense Minister Kyuma addressed the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. (The speech, which, can be viewed here, is nothing special; be sure to fast forward to the seven minute mark, unless you want to watch Heritage President Edwin Feulner fulminate against China and refer to the defense minister as "Mr. Kayuma.") In his speech, Kyuma said regarding Japan's three principles on arms export, "The time to investigate whether the current situation is good or not is coming." (Asahi's article here)

According to Kyuma, joint missile defense research with the US and the costliness of developing weapons in one country (i.e., kokusanka) are the main reasons pushing Japan to consider loosening restrictions on arms exports.

It seems, however, that Kyuma's remarks were indicative of the Abe Cabinet's opening yet another front in the war to roll back the limits on Japan's defense policy. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki denied that Kyuma's remarks signal a policy change by the government.

But is Shiozaki's denial strategic or tactical? Does the Abe Cabinet really have no designs on the arms export principles, or is it postponing the issue to a time when the agenda is slightly less crowded?

Given Abe's "revolutionary" bent, I strongly doubt that it's the former.

1 comment:

Ken said...

I don't think anyone wants this issue discussed domestically before the election. Too much ammo for the DPJ, to mix my metaphors. They should have kept the lid on it until after the July elections.