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2014年5月22日 (木)

与党安保協議 個別的自衛権では限界がある

The Yomiuri Shimbun 8:00 pm, May 21, 2014
Individual self-defense limited in addressing situations facing Japan
与党安保協議 個別的自衛権では限界がある

How should the government’s constitutional interpretation be changed to ensure Japan’s peace and safety, and what sort of legal frameworks are necessary to achieve this purpose? We urge the ruling parties to discuss the matter thoroughly and reach conclusions in a timely manner.

The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito have begun discussing key security issues, including a revision of the government’s constitutional interpretation regarding the exercise of Japan’s right to collective self-defense.

The ruling parties will initially talk about so-called gray-zone situations, infringements against the country that do not involve the use of force, such as the seizure of a remote island by an armed group. The second order of business is Japan’s role in international cooperation, such as whether to allow Self-Defense Forces troops to rescue foreign troops and civilians under attack during U.N. peacekeeping operations. The final issue is Japan’s right to collective self-defense.

So far, Komeito has been receptive to the establishment of the legal framework necessary to address gray-zone situations, but remains cautious on changing the constitutional interpretation. We understand the ruling parties’ aim to lead off with issues that are likely to reach an agreement. However, the issue on collective self-defense is the linchpin of all related issues, and should not be shelved.

When discussing changes in the government’s constitutional interpretation, the three issues should be dealt with as a package. The same is true of preparing the necessary legal frameworks for each of the three issues.

The ruling parties did not set a deadline for the discussions. The government plans to submit bills to revise laws related to collective self-defense at an extraordinary Diet session this autumn, and to revise the Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation Guidelines by year-end. We urge the LDP and Komeito to take note of these events and deal with them expeditiously.

Flaws in Komeito’s logic

A government expert panel has called for changes to the existing constitutional interpretation concerning collective-self defense to allow the SDF to protect U.S. military vessels in seas around Japan, engage in minesweeping activities on key sea-lanes and intercept ballistic missiles heading toward the United States using a Japan-based missile defense system. Komeito has conceded the necessity of enabling Japan to handle these situations, but says it can be dealt with through the right to individual self-defense or police authority, not with the right to collective self-defense. However, we can’t help but point out the flaws in Komeito’s ideas.

For example, SDF vessels usually maintain a distance of several kilometers or more from U.S. vessels when sailing in a convoy. If a SDF ship tries to repel an attack on a U.S. vessel from such a distance, it would apparently exceed the permissible level of interpretation on individual self-defense.

In the case of minesweeping, individual self-defense could be seen as applicable if the mines target only Japanese ships. However, that is hardly realistic, as mines are not usually laid to target a specific country.

Could the Japan’s right to “exercise police authority to remove dangerous objects” be used to permit the SDF to intercept ballistic missiles heading toward the United States? This is highly unlikely, as Japan’s police authority does not extend to U.S. territory.

Under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, a nation that exercises its right to self-defense must report to the U.N. Security Council. If the Security Council concludes that Japan went beyond the permissible level of interpretation on individual self-defense—a development the government panel feared—Japan could open itself up to criticism by the international community for violating international law.

Any number of developments could arise in the protection of U.S. vessels or minesweeping. If such activities are restricted within the scope of individual self-defense and police authority, it is doubtful that the SDF will be able to respond to every eventuality flexibly and efficiently.

The LDP-Komeito coalition has a history of finding middle ground, even when issues put the two parties in conflict. There is no reason why they should fail to reach an agreement on the issue of Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 21, 2014)


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