Nevertheless, Asia and Oceania was the biggest region for arms imports, accounting for 42 percent of the global total between 2013 and 2017, the institute calculated.
Arms imports by countries in the Middle East jumped by 103 percent during the 2013-2017 period compared with the previous five years, a report on global arms sales by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed on Monday.
Russian Federation remains the world's second-largest weapon exporter, accounting for around 20% of global supplies to 47 countries.
Saudi Arabia, which is leading a massive military campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, saw its arms imports increase by a staggering 225 percent in the 2013-2017 period compared with 2008-2012.
From 12 March 2018 the freely accessible SIPRI Arms Transfers Database includes data on arms transfers in 2017 and updated information for 1950-2016.
"In 2008-12 Pakistan received substantial military aid from the U.S., including 28 combat aircraft and five maritime patrol aircraft".
'References to Japan PM Abe and wife removed from documents'
Aso has refused to resign over the scandal, which last Friday saw the head of the tax agency Nobuhisa Sagawa step down. Eight out of 10 respondents said the government was not properly responding to the allegations.
On the other hand, India - which has been accelerating its relationship with the USA over the past several years from more military exercises to a path-breaking logistics sharing agreement - has recorded a 557 per cent increase in arms deliveries from Washington in 2013-17 as compared to the past. "The United Arab Emirates was the fourth largest importer in 2013-17, while Qatar (the 20th largest arms importer) increased its arms imports and signed several major deals in that period", SIPRI said. However, German arms exports to the Middle East increased by 109 per cent.
The report showed China delivered major arms to 48 countries in the past five years, with Pakistan topping the list, followed by Bangladesh and Algeria.
China's arms import slipped by 19 percent between 2008-12 and 2013-17 as the country produced its own advanced weapons.
"Widespread violent conflicts in the Middle East and concerns about human rights have led to political debate in Western Europe and North America about restricting arms sales", said SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman in a statement.
But in cases where United States relations with other countries had deteriorated the result was a fall in arms transfers. India's arms imports from the United States saw a more than six-fold jump.
During the same period, China's weapons exports to Pakistan augmented by healthy 35pc and the latter remained biggest buyer of Chinese-made weapons.