Japanese megafirm Itochu will cut ties with Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit System amid the ongoing violence in Gaza.
Chief Financial Officer Tsuyoshi Hachimura announced the plan during an earnings press conference.
Since WWII, Japan has established itself as having largely pacifist values, with its military primarily known as the Japan Self-Defence Forces and its constitution prohibiting participation in conflicts.
However, since the previous Abe government, Japanese companies are allowed to collaborate with military organisations for the purpose of exchanging technology.
Itochu and Elbit signed the strategic cooperation memorandum of understanding (MOU) along with Nippon Aircraft Supply (NAS) in March 2023.
After Israel declared war on Gaza in October 2023, anti-war activists in Japan organised to protest Itochu’s involvement.
Hachimura said the partnership with Israel’s largest arms manufacturer was made by request of the Japanese defence ministry and unrelated to the escalating war in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“The partnership is based on a request from the Japan’s defence ministry for the purpose of importing defence equipment for the Self-Defense Forces necessary for Japan’s security, and is not in any way related to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine,” said Hachimura during the earnings press conference.
The announcement follows International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) preliminary ruling on 26 January.
The ICJ found Israel’s military actions in Gaza may constitute a genocide.
The court ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent further massacres against Palestinians.
“Taking into consideration the International Court of Justice’s order on January 26, and that the Japanese government supports the role of the Court, we have already suspended new activities related to the MOU, and plan to end the MOU by the end of February,” said Hachimura.
Itochu sits among Japan’s largest trading companies and is internationally prominent, ranking 96th in Fortune’s Global 500.
Israel appears undeterred by the ICJ ruling, and the actions of Itochu and other international companies’ and governments, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting another Hamas-proposed ceasefire, insisting on an “absolute victory” for Israel.