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2013年11月25日 (月)

邦人陸上輸送 法改正後に残る「武器」の課題

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 25, 2013
Govt must expand list of weapons SDF can carry on rescue missions
邦人陸上輸送 法改正後に残る「武器」の課題(11月24日付・読売社説)

It is undoubtedly important that options have been broadened to allow the Self-Defense Forces to transport Japanese trapped in perilous situations abroad to safety.

A revision of the Self-Defense Forces Law has been enacted to allow SDF members to transport Japanese nationals to safety by land in the event of an emergency situation overseas.

Before the revision, the law limited rescue and transportation operations to sea or air.

In the January hostage crisis in Algeria, the Algerian government transported Japanese victims to In Amenas International Airport, about 50 kilometers from the site of the Islamic militant attack.

If a similar emergency occurs in the future, Japan cannot always depend on a country to respond in the way Algeria did, leaving no option for Japan but to transport victims to safety.

With an increasing number of Japanese companies expanding operations overseas, it is necessary for the government to put a wider range of countermeasures in place to ensure the safety of Japanese living abroad.

Sending SDF troops to foreign territories is contingent of course on an agreement on the part of the country concerned, but the assignment of new missions to the SDF under the revised law is highly significant.

However, thorough preparations are essential as transportation by land could, depending on the area where an emergency occurs, be exposed to a far higher level of danger than sea and air operations.

It is important for the government to create Ground Self-Defense Force teams capable of carrying out transportation by land and train them until they become highly skilled.

Studies should be conducted on the advisability of allowing SDF troops on rescue and transportation missions abroad to carry not only handguns, rifles and machine guns, but also such weapons as recoilless rifles, if the need arises.

Beef up intelligence capability

As the use of weapons by SDF troops is restricted at present to using weapons to the defense of themselves, other Japanese and foreign nationals under their protection, it is indispensable to expand the scope of weapons they can use to ensure the safety of land transportation missions.

In the event antigovernment insurgents operating in an crisis-ridden country set up roadblocks, SDF troops traveling by land would be forced to find an alternative route, as they are not allowed to fire warning shots.

SDF troops are also prohibited from guarding foreign troops operating in the vicinity of a crisis-stricken area despite requests. Such an action would be regarded as “exercise of force abroad,” which is considered a violation of the Constitution.

A government expert panel currently has been studying the wisdom of reviewing the existing constitutional interpretation concerning Japan’s right to collective self-defense. We hope the panel will also address the task of expanding the scope of weapons the SDF can use in operations abroad.

In legislating the revision to the Self-Defense Forces Law, three opposition parties—the Democratic Party of Japan, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party—supported the revision bill, in addition to the ruling coalition parties.

It is desirable for the ruling and opposition camps to cooperate extensively on the nation’s security policy.

To ensure the safety of Japanese abroad, enhancing the government’s capabilities to collect and analyze information from abroad is equally important.

On the occasion of creating a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, the bill for which is expected to be enacted soon, the government should boost efforts to exchange and share terrorism-related information with countries concerned, while fostering experts in this field from a medium- and long-range viewpoint.

In addition, the number of resident defense attaches at the country’s diplomatic missions abroad should be augmented, and the missions’ information-gathering functions strengthened.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2013)
(2013年11月24日01時49分  読売新聞)


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