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4 Japanese firms invested heavily in cluster bomb makers: NGO group

Four Japanese financial firms invested heavily in cluster bomb manufacturers between 2013 and 2017, said the Dutch nongovernmental organization (NGO) PAX.

    According to a report released by PAX, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Orix Corp. and Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., Ltd. all invested considerable sums of money into cluster bomb makers up until March 2017 -- with the figures coming to U.S.$914 million, U.S.$606 million, U.S.$354 million and U.S.$40 million, respectively.

    The findings revealed that Japan, which in 2008 signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibiting the use, development and production of cluster munitions, had the highest number of its domestic financial institutions investing in cluster bomb makers among other signatory countries.

    Between June 2013 and March 2017, PAX carried out an investigation into the transactions of six cluster bomb makers in the United States, China and South Korea. The findings showed that a total of 166 financial institutions across the world invested U.S.$31 billion in these cluster bomb producers during this period.

    In response to the findings, Orix said that, "The transactions were carried out by an American asset management firm, to which we are indirectly connected," while Dai-ichi Life Insurance stated that, "It was done by one of our overseas group companies." Both firms have claimed that they are looking into ways of dealing with the issue.

    On the other hand, the other two companies said they do not comment on individual transactions.

    Maaike Beenes, who was involved in the PAX investigation, commented on the findings, saying, "Japanese financial institutions invest a lot. Also, the government has a responsibility to encourage South Korea and China to join the Convention (on Cluster Munitions)." She added that consumers should pay attention to what kind of investments financial firms are making.

    A cluster bomb releases several dozen to hundreds of small bomblets. According to international NGO Cluster Munition Coalition, at least 417 people were killed or injured by the use of such bombs in 2015 alone, 97 percent of them civilians.

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