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2009年6月 9日 (火)

対「北」船舶検査 決議実施へ法の不備を正せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 9, 2009)
Fix laws to implement U.N. resolution
対「北」船舶検査 決議実施へ法の不備を正せ(6月9日付・読売社説)

While calling on all U.N. member nations to inspect the cargo of vessels plying to and from North Korea, Japan itself faces a legal barrier to doing so. This is not logical.

A revised draft resolution expected to be adopted soon by the U.N. Security Council in response to North Korea's second nuclear test likely will incorporate such cargo inspections.
Under the new resolution, U.N. member nations would stop vessels plying to and from North Korea and conduct inspections to check whether they are carrying arms and other embargoed goods at sea.

The United States is calling for such cargo inspections and Japan supports the measure. On the high seas, however, the new resolution likely will require U.N. member nations to obtain approval from the flag state of the vessels being searched out of consideration for China, which is cautious toward compulsory inspections.

Japan's Ship Inspection Operations Law is related to the law to deal with contingencies in areas surrounding the country and can only be applied in instances that could develop into a situation under which Japan comes under attack.

A law on restrictions of maritime transportation of foreign military supplies is limited to being applied in situations where Japan is under military attack, while the Japan Coast Guard Law limits areas in which the JCG can operate to Japan's territorial waters only.


Difficult to meet legal threshold

Among those laws, the Ship Inspection Operations Law is relatively easy to apply for cargo inspections on the high seas, but it is a little far-fetched to conclude that the current situation regarding North Korea is a contingency in areas surrounding Japan. The law needs to be revised to enable Japan to conduct the inspections in situations other than contingencies.

There are other problems.

The law to deal with contingencies in areas surrounding Japan is designed to provide logistic support to the U.S. military and therefore Japan is currently unable to conduct inspections in cooperation with countries other than the United States. The use of weapons by Self-Defense Force personnel during such inspections is strictly limited to self-defense and even firing a warning shot is not permitted.

These restrictions obviously make it difficult for Japan to act in cooperation with other countries. Establishing a new law is an option that could fix all these problems.


Problem put off

The Japanese government discussed cargo inspections based on the U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution on North Korea after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looked into a plan to participate in inspection activities by acknowledging the situation at the time as a contingency in areas surrounding Japan. Former Democratic Party of Japan leader Seiji Maehara and other DPJ members insisted that establishment of a new law be discussed.

However, those initiatives later faded away after North Korea returned to the six-party talks on its nuclear program.

Pointing out that it is still uncertain whether cargo inspections will be conducted under the new resolution, some people say there is no rush for Japan to deal with the matter.

However, North Korea is once again poised to launch a ballistic missile. There is a possibility that the U.N. Security Council may adopt a resolution that stipulates even stricter enforcement of the embargo against North Korea, depending on Pyongyang's next move. Fixing the legal pitfall should not be delayed.

Implementing effective sanctions against North Korea is the objective. In light of this, the ruling parties and the DPJ should cooperate in formulating a new law. Given that the Diet session has been extended by a significant amount, there should be ample time to take on this task.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 9, 2009)
(2009年6月9日01時37分  読売新聞)


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