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Japan's first major arms fair met with some 400 protesters on 1st day

A Ground Self-Defense Force Type 10 tank is seen on display during the "DSEI Japan" defense equipment fair at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba on Nov. 18, 2019. (Mainichi/Shigeki Yutani)

CHIBA -- A defense equipment fair described as "a place to promote Japan's defense industry" by the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) began here on Nov. 18, as about 400 protesters gathered in this city east of Tokyo to oppose the event.

Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) is being held at Makuhari Messe convention center in the city of Chiba through Nov. 20. The nation's "first fully integrated defense event" is sponsored by ATLA, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry with 62 Japanese and 93 foreign firms and organizations taking part.

ATLA is displaying the Ground Self-Defense Force Type 10 tank and Type 16 maneuver combat vehicle, military transport aircraft and flying rescue boat models, long-lasting preserved foods, outdoor bath sets and other equipment. A representative of the agency stated, "We would like to proceed with exporting these items to close allies in an appropriate manner."

Until now, Japan did not hold any major arms fair with the aim to promote such equipment, as exports of arms and related technology was basically banned under the Three Principles on Arms Exports. However, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014 replaced such a guideline with the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, allowing sales and leases of such items.

In response to the latest event, citizens' groups including people against the arms fair took to the streets near the venue. A participant stated, "Don't turn Japan into a merchant of death!" Others chanted, "The arms trade is the beginning of war," and, "It's a violation of Japan's pacifist Constitution."

Such groups have urged the Chiba Prefectural Government that owns Makuhari Messe to stop leasing the venue and issued a joint statement against the event. Protesters delivered speeches in opposition to the defense equipment fair and formed a human chain as well as performed die-ins.

(Japanese original by Shigeki Yutani, Osaka Regional News Center)

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