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2009年8月 5日 (水)

防衛有識者会議 大胆な提言を新大綱に生かせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 5, 2009)
New defense guidelines should reflect bold ideas
防衛有識者会議 大胆な提言を新大綱に生かせ(8月5日付・読売社説)

A report was presented to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday by a group of experts studying the revision of the National Defense Program Guidelines, which define how to maintain Japan's defense capabilities. The panel's report contains a number of daring and important proposals.

To ensure the nation's peace and security amid the changes taking place in the international security environment, it is imperative that traditional taboos be cast aside and that a review takes place of defense policy and the organization of Self-Defense Forces units and the defense equipment available to them.

Whichever party takes office after the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election, efforts should be made to reflect the group's proposals as much as possible in the new defense guidelines that are due to be formulated by the end of this year.

In the report, the experts said that the ability of the United States to be the driving force of "a free and open global system" has weakened in relative terms. Therefore, Japan and European countries need to make up for the United States' declining influence and try to solve international security problems with a joint approach, according to the panel.


Review PKO participation rules

In concrete terms, the report proposed a review of the nation's five principles for participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and a revision of the U.N. Peacekeeping Activities Cooperation Law so that SDF troops can more actively participate in peace cooperation activities.

The threats of international terrorism and piracy in the waters off Somalia symbolize the reality that Japan's security is tied to world peace. The nation has a responsibility to play a part in peace-building efforts by the international community. However, only 39 Japanese were participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations as of June 30, a figure that places Japan only 82nd in the world.

To increase the number of SDF members participating in PKOs, it is important to develop a system enabling the dispatch of troops flexibly in line with the actual circumstances of such missions. It is also necessary to relax existing rules on the use of weapons and develop permanent legislation on the dispatch of SDF members abroad.


How to interpret Constitution?

In the report, the panel also urged the government to change its interpretation of the Constitution to enable the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense so that the SDF can intercept ballistic missiles heading toward the United States and protect U.S. Navy ships monitoring missile launches.

When North Korea fired a ballistic missile in April, the SDF and U.S. forces worked together to deal with the situation. To further strengthen confidence in the Japan-U.S. alliance, the government should change its constitutional interpretation as soon as possible.

On the question of whether the nation should possess the capability of attacking bases in enemy territory, the panel stressed in the report that Japan should study the suitability and cost-effectiveness of equipment and operational procedures to this end on the condition that should such contingencies arise Tokyo and Washington would work together to deal with them.

Calmly discussing what responsibilities Tokyo can share with Washington to help supplement the offensive capabilities of U.S. forces has huge significance.

The report said the nation's three principles for banning arms exports were preventing Japan from participating in international research projects for developing and producing weapons and that these should be made exceptions to the rules. They also proposed that the ban on the export of weapons to support efforts against terrorism and piracy should also be lifted.

In addition to Japan not being left behind when it comes to state-of-the-art military technology, it should also be a matter of course that Japan allows the export of weapons when this can serve as a contribution to global peace.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 5, 2009)
(2009年8月5日02時09分  読売新聞)


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