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2014年4月 5日 (土)

集団的自衛権 限定容認論で合意形成を図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun April 05, 2014
Consensus must be formed on theory of limited collective defense
集団的自衛権 限定容認論で合意形成を図れ

It is of crucial importance for this country to adequately cope with the deteriorating national security environment while ensuring a degree of logical consistency with the government’s current interpretation of the Constitution.

A theory that may be considered convincing from this point of view has just been proposed.

Within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, members have voiced growing support for the case presented by LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura, which calls for enabling the country to exercise its right to collective self-defense in a limited capacity.

In the first meeting on Monday of the party’s task force for consolidating the legal basis of national security, a lecture delivered by Komura to that effect won approval even from the many LDP legislators who had been taking a cautious stance on the matter.

Komura’s theory in favor of the limited exercise of collective self-defense is based on a mode of thinking that would make it possible for the country to use its “minimum necessary self-defense right for the purpose of securing Japan’s existence as a nation,” and would not cover all categories of collective defense rights.

He conceived the idea by drawing on a 1959 Supreme Court ruling handed down in the so-called Sunagawa case, which said that the exercise of self-defense rights “can be permitted if doing so is necessary to maintain Japan’s peace and security, and to ensure its existence as a nation.”

Specifically, the concept of partially exercising the right to collective self-defense recognizes, for instance, a counteroffensive by Self-Defense Forces in defense of a U.S. military vessel under attack in the vicinity of Japan, and minesweeping operations by the SDF on sea lanes of key national interest.  具体的には、日本の近くで米軍艦船が攻撃された際の自衛隊の反撃や、海上交通路(シーレーン)での掃海活動などを認める。

Situations in which the country could become embroiled in wars in foreign territories, such as SDF troops being dispatched to the United States to fight in the event of an armed attack within the United States, are said to be deliberately excluded under this conceptualization.

The proposed change to the constitutional interpretation can be considered an alteration of the conventional interpretation with restrictions, as it maintains that partial exercise of the collective self-defense right can be considered compatible with the current government interpretation of the supreme law,which specifies the exercise of the nation's self-defense right should be limited to the minimum scope necessary to defend Japan.

Dispel worries of bias

Meanwhile, there remains a strong body of opinion that the current interpretation of the Constitution—as prohibiting the exercise of the collective self-defense right—is wrong, and the full exercise of the right must instead be recognized. This mode of thinking, too, can be considered to have significant logical merit.

This line of argument, fully endorsing the exercise of the collective defense right, has the merit of leaving open the government’s options as well as discretion from the standpoint of ensuring the country’s preparedness for a wide spectrum of emergencies.

However, to counteract any misinterpretation that the proposed collective defense right concept could open the way for the country to wage a war, it is useful to clarify the restrictions and conditions imposed on the use of collective self-defense based on the idea of making the country capable of partially exercising the right.

The idea proposed by Komura can safely be viewed as a balanced, realistic approach to ensuring the stability of the new interpretation, by formulating widespread agreement among the ruling and opposition camps as well as obtaining the understanding of the public.

Now the focus of discussions should be shifted to the scope and conditions for giving the go-ahead for limited exercise of the right. Discussions well suited to concrete instances of circumstances, rather than abstractions, are imperative.

Some have asserted that the nation’s individual right to self-defense should be considered sufficient for the SDF to make a counterattack in defense of U.S. warships under assault in waters near Japan.

Given that it is quite normal for warships to operate at least several kilometers apart from each other, however, the attempt to justify such a phase of SDF operations in defense of U.S. warships based purely on the individual self-defense right is unlikely to work.

Allowing the country to provide U.S. forces with logistic support in case of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula in a more active manner, based on a theoretical limited exercise of the collective self-defense right, would be sure to help strengthen the alliance between Japan and the United States.

Constructive discussions should be made on this theory.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 4, 2014)


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