BNC letter to Japanese Prime Minister on arms export to Israel
H.E. Shinzō Abe
Prime Minister of the Government of Japan
Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Junya Matsuura, Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority
Yutaka Iimura, Special Envoy of Japan for the Middle East
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee
4 March 2013
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to express deep concern at the recent decision of your government to grant an exception to Japan’s long-standing and commendable arms export control policy that will allow for Japanese arms components to be exported to Israel through participation in the American F-35 fighter jet program. This decision signals a dangerous shift in Japan’s foreign policy and establishes a grave precedent to Japan’s role in the region.
Israel has repeatedly violated international law, provoking or initiating armed conflicts aimed at territorial expansion through the annexation of occupied territory, which in the case of the Golan Heights has been qualified as an act of aggression by the UN General Assembly.
Since its violent inception through the systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine more than 60 years ago, Israel has inflicted endless death, injury, forced displacement, dispossession and destruction upon millions of Palestinians and other Arabs in neighbouring countries.
Israel uses military force to maintain an unlawful regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, which is put in place in order to control as much land with as few indigenous Palestinians as possible and to prevent the Palestinian people from exercising its inalienable right to self-determination.
A recent UN report of the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli settlements in the OPT calls on member-states to assume their responsibilities in relation to Israel’s breach of peremptory norms of international law. In this vein, Japan should be imposing sanctions on Israel to enforce compliance and ensure respect for Palestinian rights rather than contributing to its warmongering.
Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms company participating in the manufacturing of the F-35 fighter jet, provides also equipment to Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank, declared illegal in a 2004 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice. For this reason Elbit was named in a recent UN report as a company to be boycotted and in 2009 the Norwegian government took the step to divest from Elbit for violating its ethical principles. Japan’s eventual engagement with Elbit runs counter to the growing international consensus regarding Israel’s illegal actions.
Japan’s assumption that the US is capable of enforcing “controls” on sales of the F-35 to third countries falls flat when examining America’s continued role in arming Israel, $24 billion between 2000 and 2009 alone, and in shielding Israel from meaningful accountabilty. The US is scheduled to supply 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel in 2015 with possibiliy of an additional order of 55 jets at a later date. Israeli officials claim the F-35 will grant them a “regional qualitative edge”, in other words, a freehand to bully to submission peoples of the region, including a potentially devastating war on Iran.
This appaling decision to grant Israel an exception to Japan’s strict arms control policy, a subject that generated much debate and opposition from within Japan, greatly tarnishes the country’s image in the Arab region and makes complicit Japanese companies involved in this project target of mass boycott action by supporters of justice for Palestinians worldwide. With the growth of Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, no longer complicity with Israel’s illegal and immoral actions go without consequence, a trend emboldened by the recent Arab uprisings for freedom and against foreign domination and interference.
Palestinian civil society, as represented by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), calls on the Japanese government to immediately rescind its decision to grant an exemption to its de facto arms embargo on Israel by ending immediately its involvement in the F-35 fighter jet program and making vocal and explicit that no Japanese arms and components as well as companies will ever play a role in supporting Israel’s illegal acts of aggression in violation of internatinal law.
On behalf of the BNC