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2008年6月20日 (金)


(Jun. 20, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Continue work toward permanent SDF law

自衛隊海外派遣 恒久法論議を継続すべきだ(6月20日付・読売社説)

It is not an easy job to create permanent legislation on the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces abroad. Nonetheless, strenuous discussions on this must continue, and without shelving contentious points.



An interim report released Thursday by a joint Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito project team tasked with drafting such a law contains many expressions of procrastination, such as "studying" and "continuation of discussions." The ruling coalition parties could agree on only a few points, such as the principle of requiring of Diet approval before sending SDF personnel for missions abroad.



The project team initially planned to compile an outline of such a bill by the end of the current Diet session, but it has failed to keep to the deadline. Many members of the ruling coalition parties even believe it will be difficult for the team to get the bill submitted to an extraordinary Diet session scheduled for the autumn.



Weapons use debated


Opinions of LDP and New Komeito members on the team are most sharply divided on whether to add protective activities to the list of SDF missions overseas. LDP members argued that such activities should be added to the list, which already includes logistical support and humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, but New Komeito members remained cautious about this.



Protective activities are supposed to include protection during the transportation of important persons or supply goods and defending facilities. Activities to maintain security could lead to full-fledged combat, but protective activities are different. SDF troops should be allowed to engage in the latter.


In that case, it is important to revise rules on the use of weapons for SDF troops by reviewing their relation to Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.



At present, SDF members are permitted to use weapons only for self-defense and other tightly restricted purposes. If an international organization asks them to protect its staff, SDF members have only two choices--stoop to refusing the request or expose themselves intentionally to dangers that could lead to the use of weapons after being dispatched, but under the name of a different mission.


(stoop=品位を落とす、身を屈める、恥を忍ぶ) (stoop to something=恥をしのんで何かをなす)

Under current regulations, even if an SDF vehicle carrying supply goods is obstructed by someone on a road, SDF members are not allowed to fire warning shots--they are only allowed to steer around the obstructor. This would hinder SDF units from being effective abroad.


(Obstruct=妨害する、通行などを阻止する、妨害する) (steer=操縦する、舵をとる、避けて通る、迂回する) (hinder=妨げる、遅らせる)

It is necessary to set clear rules on the use of weapons in accordance with the degree of hostility and to train SDF members based on these in advance. This will better serve as a safeguard to prevent the overuse of weapons.




End cycle of temporary laws


Currently, two special measures laws provide the legal basis for the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean and the air transportation activities by the Air Self-Defense Force in Iraq. But these will expire in January and July next year, respectively.

Many countries are likely to begin pulling their troops from Iraq after the U.N. Security Council resolution on multinational forces in the war-torn country expires at the end of this year.



Japan, too, must decide what to do with SDF activities related to Afghanistan and Iraq, and must develop necessary laws based on that decision during the extraordinary Diet session this autumn.


The government is already making preparations for that. For instance, it sent a research team to Afghanistan earlier this month. The team is supposed to study the possible airlifting of supplies by SDF planes to Afghanistan from a neighboring country as well as their transportation by SDF helicopters within Afghanistan.


Even if the government decides to deal with this by creating new special measures laws instead of permanent legislation, the necessity to deepen discussions on SDF missions abroad and rules for SDF members on the use of weapons will remain the same.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 20, 2008)

20086200151  読売新聞)


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