This news story titled “Merchants of Death” is in Japanese so I’ll try to summarize the most important bits in English. I cannot find much more information on this topic outside of Japanese news media.

Japan had a ban on arms exports until 2014 when the ban was lifted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. Japan has donated, loaned, and traded to other countries, but they have yet to actually sell anything they produced. The C-2 aircraft built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries could potentially be their first arms sale. Various countries are interested in buying these aircraft including the UAE, which is involved with the Saudi-led coalition and their war on Yemen. Some in Japan are concerned that the Japanese made aircraft could be used in that war. This article brings up discussions held at Japan’s network against arms exports.

「C2輸送機をUAEに売り込むことは、戦争犯罪への加担そのもの」Selling the C-2 transport aircraft to the UAE makes us complicit in war crimes.

「UAEの国防担当者は、サウジ主導の連合軍で運用する場合、C2輸送機は軍の装備品を輸送することになると明言しています。内戦下のイエメンに対し、サウジ主導の連合軍は、無差別な爆撃を行い、民間人多数を虐殺しています。イエメンでは、サウジ連合軍によるインフラ破壊や国境封鎖で、飢餓やコレラ等の感染症の流行が深刻化しており、国連も『最悪の人道危機』と警告しているのです」Defense officials from the UAE have stated that he C-2 aircraft will be used by Saudi Arabia and the coalition’s war on Yemen to transport military equipment. They are indiscriminately bombing and committing massacres on civilians and now infectious diseases such as cholera are spreading. The destruction of infrastructure and blockade by the Saudi coalition are making the situation worse.

The Japanese ban on arms exports has three provisions:

  1. The Government of Japan has been dealing carefully with “arms” exports in accordance with the Three Principles on Arms Exports (hereinafter referred to as “the Three Principles”) and their related policy in order to avoid any possible aggravation of international conflicts.
  2. Under the Three Principles, “arms” exports to the following countries or regions shall not be permitted:(1) communist bloc countries,
    (2) countries subject to “arms” exports embargo under the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions, and
    (3) countries involved in or likely to be involved in international conflicts.The Three Principles have been the basic policy concerning Japan’s “arms” exports since they were declared at the Diet session in 1967.
  3. Subsequently, in February 1976, the Government of Japan announced the collateral policy guideline at the Diet session that the “arms” exports to other areas not included in the Three Principles will be also restrained in conformity with Japan’s position as a peace-loving nation. In other words, the collateral policy guideline declared that the Government of Japan shall not promote “arms” exports, regardless of the destinations.

The changes to these provisions were not discussed or debated in the Diet before the Abe government relaxed the export ban.

According to the BBC, principal #3 (countries involved in or likely to be involved in international conflicts) will remain while other restrictions are lifted.

Exports will be allowed in cases where they contributed to global peace and served Japan’s security interests, Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan would impose strict screening on exports and would be transparent about the process, it said. Japan would also not allow its exports to be sold on to third parties.

“Under the new principles, we have made the procedure for transfer of defence equipment more transparent,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

“That will contribute to peace and international co-operation from the standpoint of proactive pacifism.”

“And we will participate in joint development and production of defence equipment,” he added.

In August, reported that according to a report by the Nikkei, the UAE and Japan were negotiating the price for the C-2 aircraft.

The government is in discussion with UAE for the purchase of 19 billion yen ($173 million) worth C-2 aircraft, although the specific number of aircraft is not known yet. The Emirates government has been provided with specifications and other related information about the aircraft.

Both the governments are in now negotiating a final price and the number of aircraft, the report says.

While the Japanese government is screening whether the sale can go through, another Defense Ministry official said the deal might be able to squeeze by since “the UAE is not the one who is leading the intervention” in Yemen.

This month the C-2 aircraft was shown to potential buyers at the 2017 Dubai Airshow.