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2014年5月30日 (金)

衆院集中審議 15事例の安保論議を深めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun 9:34 pm, May 29, 2014
15 security scenarios should serve as springboard for deeper discussions
衆院集中審議 15事例の安保論議を深めたい

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must thoroughly explain why it is essential for the government to give Japan the power to exercise its right of collective self-defense and continue his efforts to win broader understanding among the people.

The House of Representatives Budget Committee was host to intensive discussions on collective self-defense on Wednesday. Discussions focused in particular on one of the 15 security scenarios recently put forth by the government as examples of situations that would be difficult to address and resolve under the current interpretation of the Constitution.
Abe emphasized that Japan should be allowed to defend foreign vessels, including non-U.S. vessels, transporting Japanese civilians from areas of conflict overseas. He also stressed that Japan should be able to defend U.S. vessels whether they are transporting Japanese civilians or not.
He made his remarks in connection with the defense of U.S. transport vessels carrying Japanese civilians from overseas.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada of the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan criticized Abe, saying that including vessels from countries other than the United States within the scope of collective self-defense would create the possibility of that scope expanding without limits.

Kiyohiko Toyama of New Komeito raised his own doubts regarding the defense of U.S. vessels not carrying Japanese civilians from overseas.

It is a matter of course for the government to attach the greatest importance to the nation’s alliance with the United States, but the government should not adopt such a narrow view that it refuses to exercise its right to collective self-defense to defend vessels from countries other than the United States.

Japan’s multitiered defense cooperation with other Asian and European nations serves to ensure the country’s safety. When the situation in Libya deteriorated in 2011, Japanese civilians were able to flee the country on aircraft of the Spanish forces and via a U.S.-chartered vessel.

An untenable imbalance

It is not realistic, in the course of an evacuation, for the nation to adopt two different postures toward defending vessels based on whether they have Japanese civilians aboard.

As long as it is difficult to predict how a situation will unfold, it is desirable for the government to be able to make policy decisions by taking all circumstances into consideration.

Abe presented his stance of maintaining the elements of the current interpretation of the Constitution that forbid the Self-Defense Forces from providing refueling and transport support to other countries’ forces—support measures that can be integrated into the use of force by those countries.

As the governmental panel of experts has pointed out, a full-scale change in the government’s interpretation of the Constitution is a potentially viable option for expanding SDF support for U.S. forces.

Concepts held only by Japan, such as the “noncombat zone,” do not have global currency.

On the other hand, it is to some extent inevitable for the government to maintain its stance forbidding the possible integration of Japanese support into the use of force by other countries, in order to maintain consistency with its conventional interpretation.

Instead, the government should limit as much as possible the range of prohibited SDF support activities and thereby expand the areas and variety of activities the SDF is able to take part in.

In discussing national security, it is important to maintain a basis in particular, specific cases, rather than flying into purely abstract arguments.

The 15 security scenarios should be used as a springboard for deeper and more substantial discussions.

Sakihito Ozawa, former environment minister of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), and Keiichiro Asao, the leader of Your Party, have both expressed their support for a change in the government’s interpretation of the Constitution. Komeito is also positive, in principle, about dealing with the 15 scenarios.

But opinions remain split within the DPJ. This lack of unity is the price the party is paying for having put off internal discussions on security issues, for fear of causing an internal rift. The party needs to start intraparty discussions as soon as possible and must reach a unified party view to put forth.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 29, 2014)


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