U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked Japan last week to export a new type of ship-based missile interceptor under joint development by Tokyo and Washington to third countries, presumably European, sources close to Japan-U.S. relations said.
Gates’ request could lead to a further relaxation of Japan’s decades-long arms embargo and spark a chorus of opposition from pacifist elements in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and one of its coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party . . .
Japan has a policy of not exporting weapons or arms technology, except to the United States, with which it has a bilateral security pact . . .
Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa refrained from answering directly, telling Gates the government would study the request as it is an internal matter for Japan, the sources said.
Note the development posted earlier: Japan under pressure to lift ban on arms exports