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2014年1月22日 (水)

マイナー自衛権 円滑な危機対処法制を整えよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 21, 2014
Urgent need to establish legal framework for minor self-defense rights
マイナー自衛権 円滑な危機対処法制を整えよ(1月21日付・読売社説)

With the deteriorating security environment around Japan, establishing a legal framework that would enable the nation to deal with a variety of crises promptly and effectively is an urgent need.

The government is studying plans for legal arrangements and responses that fall under what have been called minor self-defense rights, which cover contingencies that stop short of full-scale military attacks.

Possible scenarios in which such defense rights would be exercised include the occupation of a remote island by armed special forces of an unknown nationality or disguised as fishermen, and intrusions into Japanese territorial waters by foreign submarines that continue underwater operations in defiance of requests to exit the area.

Last year, Chinese military vessels directed fire-control radar at Japanese vessels and the country unilaterally established an air defense identification zone. China’s intrusions into waters around the Senkaku Islands have become constant.

Rather than being an unrealistic scenario, the occupation of a remote island is a “clear and present danger.”

There have been very few cases in contemporary warfare in which one country has launched an armed attack along with a large-scale invasion following a declaration of war. It is more likely that a small crisis would accidentally develop into a serious situation.

We are pleased that the new National Defense Program Guidelines highlight the importance of coping with events that fall into “gray areas” between peace and overt hostilities. Countermeasures must be implemented flexibly and seamlessly based on the situation from the first signs of an emergency.

Weapon usage

The focal point is how to expand the Self-Defense Forces’ right to use weapons.

Currently, the SDF has only slightly more discretion to use force than the police do, even when patrolling the seas. There is a large difference between what is currently permitted and allowing the defense forces to be mobilized based on the right of self-defense, with the discretion to use all weaponry at their disposal. Thus, the current rules cannot be considered sufficient to deal with a heavily armed group that has occupied a remote island.

Ordering an SDF mobilization must meet three requirements: “an imminent and illegal incursion against this country,” “the lack of appropriate alternative measures” and “using the minimum amount of military force.” These are high hurdles to clear, and going through necessary procedures takes time.

Filling the legal gaps in the Self-Defense Forces Law, which sets these three conditions, could enable smooth crisis management and help strengthen Japan’s deterrent force.

One option could be, for example, revising the SDF law to establish new fields of duty, including territorial security, and giving the SDF discretion to use force accordingly.

However, there is concern that if the requirements are set too strictly, the SDF could not effectively perform their new duties. It is essential to adopt a system that would enable the flexible mobilization of defense forces.

Minor self-defense rights fall within the range of individual self-defense rights. Discussions on the matter must be promoted along with the government’s revision of constitutional interpretation of the right of collective self-defense, which is indispensable for strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance and furthering international cooperation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 21, 2014)
(2014年1月21日01時14分  読売新聞)


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