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15 Jun, 2023 11:09

Japan may change stance on arms exports – WSJ

Tokyo is reportedly considering providing artillery shells to replenish US stocks depleted by efforts to weaponize Ukraine
Japan may change stance on arms exports – WSJ

Japan is in talks with the US about shipping artillery rounds from its own arsenals to backfill Washington’s stocks, the Wall Street Journal has reported. The outlet cited the depletion of American ammunition depots due to its military aid to Ukraine.

Japan has for decades refrained from exporting lethal weapons.

In its article on Thursday, the WSJ, citing “people familiar with the talks,” claimed that Tokyo could supply 155mm artillery shells to the US.

The scheme, if approved, would reportedly not entail Japanese ammunition being sent directly to Ukraine.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that no decision had been made so far and that discussions are still underway.

A Pentagon spokesman, meanwhile, merely said that the US continues to “work together with Japan and more than 50 countries around the world to provide support to Ukraine.

Since Russia launched its military campaign last February, Japan has supplied Ukraine with bulletproof vests, helmets and other nonlethal military aid but has stopped short of shipping weapons to the country.

Currently, the Japanese government is prohibited from sending lethal weapons overseas under self-imposed restrictions dating back to the 1960s.

However, the country’s ruling party and its coalition partner started discussing a relaxation of the rules earlier this year, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaking in favor of doing so.

Late last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that South Korea had agreed to send hundreds of thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine under a “confidential arrangement” with the US.

According to the media outlet, the munitions would first be shipped stateside and then transferred on to Ukraine.

Commenting on the report, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson insisted that there were “inaccurate parts” in the WSJ article, without going into further detail about the supposed agreement.

Much like Japan, South Korea has thus far provided only financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine while refraining from shipping arms.

Washington has authorized the transfer of more than 2 million 155mm shells to Kiev since the start of the conflict, tapping into its stocks in Israel, Germany, Kuwait, and South Korea.

Russia has consistently condemned the US and its allies for supplying weapons to Ukraine, claiming that this will only serve to prolong the bloodshed.