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Japanese PM Tells EU Not to Lift China Arms Ban


Japan is urging the European Union to maintain its arms embargo on China. During a summit meeting in Luxembourg, Japan and other nations have expressed concern over how the security balance in East Asia might be changed if the arms ban is ended.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters that EU officials acknowledged Japanese concerns on the issue, and indicated they would work out a solution.

"The response was that Japan's concern is very well understood on this question of the arms embargo," he said. "The European Union' while fully understanding the concerns of Japan should like to deal with the matter so that it will not lead to a problem."

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said no quick EU action is expected on the arms ban.

"It is not at all our intention to take any immediate practical steps in respect to this embargo."

Mr. Juncker also said that if the ban were eventually lifted, the European Union would do so in a way not to endanger security. The European Union has discussed a code of conduct and other measures that would monitor arms sales to China if the ban was ended.

Japan's request comes amid increasing tensions between Tokyo and Beijing. There were major demonstrations last month across China against Japanese interests to protest Japanese aggression against China before and during World War II.

Japan, the United States, and Britain have long expressed concerns that lifting the ban would give China access to advanced technology that could be used in weapons. This, in turn, could alter the military balance of power in Asia.

The European Union imposed the ban following China's bloody 1989 crackdown on democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen square. China says the embargo is outdated. France and Germany want it lifted as a gesture of goodwill to Beijing, which is the largest EU trading partner.

But other European opinion is building against lifting the embargo. A non-binding resolution passed by the European Parliament last month called for the weapons ban to remain in place.

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