« today's headline | トップページ | banner bridge 2010-09-09 »

2010年9月 9日 (木)

自衛官武器使用 国際活動強化へ権限拡大を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 9, 2010)
Better rules needed for SDF weapons use
自衛官武器使用 国際活動強化へ権限拡大を(9月8日付・読売社説)

The use of weapons by Self-Defense Forces personnel is an issue that needs to be discussed for Japan to more actively participate in international peacekeeping activities and fulfill roles commensurate with its national power.

The government recently decided not to dispatch a Ground Self-Defense Force unit to Sudan for a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the southern part of the country.

The government cited the difficulty of overland travel and transportation in Africa as grounds for the decision. But it actually was made against a backdrop of the Defense Ministry's increasing wariness of sending SDF members to the area out of security concerns in light of the significant restrictions on the use of weapons by SDF personnel.

Working with hands tied

Under current law, SDF personnel are allowed to use weapons during overseas missions, including peacekeeping activities, solely for self-defense when their own lives or the lives of other SDF personnel are threatened.

SDF members are thus prohibited even from firing a warning shot if hostile local forces should obstruct them when they are traveling by car, leaving them no choice but to make detours. When troops of other countries are attacked and seek help from SDF personnel, they will not even be allowed to provide covering fire.

As it stands, the SDF will not be able to sufficiently carry out many activities or build relationships of trust with units from other countries. In addition, SDF members' lives may be put at risk because of the legal restriction that prevents them from using weapons unless their lives come under immediate threat.

The government must review SDF personnel's rights on the use of weapons in line with international standards so as to enable them to use weapons for the purpose of fulfilling their duties.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada raised the issue in Diet deliberations and at a press conference in mid-March, saying that it may be acceptable to change the conditions under which SDF personnel may use weapons in U.N.-authorized peacekeeping activities.

Despite his proposal, the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan stopped short of reviewing the SDF members' right to use weapons in consideration of its now former junior coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, which is cautious about sending SDF members overseas.

Consider new rules

In October last year, Okada called for reviewing the government's five conditions on SDF participation in peacekeeping operations under the U.N. Peacekeeping Activities Cooperation Law. The five conditions include the right to use weapons, the existence of a truce agreed to by all parties in a conflict and the agreement by the parties in a conflict to the SDF's participation in the peacekeeping mission.

In recent years, however, it has become difficult to identify the parties involved in a conflict in an increasing number of cases. Given this, it can be said that the five principles are out of touch with current realities.

In its election pledges for the House of Councillors election in July, the DPJ proposed considering what forms international contributions by the SDF and Japanese civilians should take to enable Japan to play a greater role in building international peace. The pledge was made with an eye toward reviewing the five principles on peacekeeping activities.

An expert panel on the National Defense Program Guidelines also proposed at the end of August expanding the SDF's right to use weapons and reviewing the five conditions on peacekeeping missions.

Because the SDP has left the coalition, the government has been freed from one problem. In the divided Diet, in which the ruling bloc controls the House of Representatives while the opposition camp holds a majority in the upper house, the DPJ should seriously consider joining hands with the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which is positive about reviewing the SDF personnel's right to use of weapons.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 8, 2010)
(2010年9月8日00時46分  読売新聞)


« today's headline | トップページ | banner bridge 2010-09-09 »





« today's headline | トップページ | banner bridge 2010-09-09 »