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2014年5月17日 (土)

集団的自衛権 日本存立へ行使「限定容認」せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 8:02 pm, May 16, 2014
Limited use of collective self-defense right essential for nation’s existence
集団的自衛権 日本存立へ行使「限定容認」せよ


A set of proposals has been put forth that is most certainly of historic significance for substantially beefing up Japan’s security policy framework and making this country better prepared for a wide range of emergencies.

A government council of experts—the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security—presented to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a report on Thursday proposing that the government enable the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

At a press conference later the same day, Abe stressed, “It has become a common view in the world that peace cannot be maintained [through efforts] by a single country.”

Citing such examples as the need for the Self-Defense Forces to defend U.S. transport vessels carrying Japanese civilians from overseas, he also urged changing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution for the purpose of enabling Japan to exercise its collective self-defense right. We support the basic direction of the envisaged change of the constitutional interpretation.

No problem in changing

The Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, are scheduled to begin consultations on the matter on Tuesday. The government is poised to make a Cabinet decision on the new interpretation of the Constitution and relevant matters as early as the end of June. The acceleration of the pace of the ruling coalition discussions is necessary.

The report by the expert panel, in light of changes in the nature of threats surrounding this country—such as North Korea’s nuclear tests and the growing influence of China, as well as fast-advancing military technologies—pointed out that responses to these threats through the individual self-defense right are bound to be limited, raising the risk of the nation plunging into perilous isolation.

Furthermore, the report, giving such instances as the possible defense by the SDF of U.S. vessels in the event of contingencies in the vicinity of Japan, forcible inspections of potentially hostile ships and minesweeping activities on key sea traffic routes, placed great importance on making it possible for Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

Should Japan be unable to adequately deal with such grave situations, the Japan-U.S. alliance, and other nation’s cooperation with Japan as well, could face the danger of crumbling.

The report presented two different views. One view favors a new constitutional interpretation that would allow the exercise of the full range of Japan’s collective self-defense right, and the other view upholds only what is referred to as a “limited approval of collective self-defense.” Empowering the nation to exercise a minimum level of collective self-defense through the second option would mean limiting use to the minimum extent necessary for ensuring the very existence of the country. The expert panel also said Japan should be allowed to take part in U.N. collective security measures that would be accompanied by the possibility of combat operations.

However, Abe stated explicitly during the news conference that he has no intention of adopting the idea of a full-scale exercise of the nation’s collective self-defense right and full-fledged participation in collective security operations, which the prime minister noted are both logically inconsistent with the government’s conventional interpretation of the supreme law.

Instead, he would pursue a coordination of views between the government and the ruling parties on the basis of a limited approval of collective self-defense.

It is quite extraordinary for a prime minister to deny part of a government advisory panel’s recommendations immediately after their announcement. The way Abe has refused part of the expert panel proposals, however, can be seen as an admirably well-considered political judgment that pays attention to Komeito, which is wary of the envisioned alteration of the constitutional interpretation.

If it became possible for this country to exercise the full scale of the collective self-defense right, the government would certainly have a wider selection of options in the face of a contingency.

However, it is indispensable for Japan as a nation governed by law to secure legal grounds while maintaining consistency with the conventional interpretation of the Constitution. Approving a limited exercise of the collective self-defense right seems to be a realistic way to clear up the misunderstanding that participation in wars overseas would be permitted and build a national consensus with broad backing by ruling and opposition parties and the people.

Changing the constitutional interpretation has been criticized by some people as “an attempt to deny constitutionalism.”

But no such problem exists if the Cabinet seeks to change the interpretation within a rational range based on its right to an official interpretation of the Constitution carefully and in line with due procedures.

Enhancing deterrence

The panel’s report listed six conditions as the requirements for exercise of the collective self-defense right, including that “inaction would significantly affect Japan’s security” and “Diet approval is granted.” The report clearly stated that exercise of the right “would be studied comprehensively” by taking into consideration the probability of Japan being attacked and the impact on trust in the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The report’s contents are by and large adequate. As it is difficult to predict what situations will emerge, it is necessary to allow room for government discretion.

As the report pointed out, collective self-defense is not an obligation but a right. Therefore, it is highly possible that the government would not exercise the right after studying whether to use it.

Changing the constitutional interpretation is aimed primarily at enabling the exercise of the collective self-defense right to reinforce the Japan-U.S. alliance and enhance deterrence, thereby preventing future conflicts. It must be remembered that the right to live peacefully and the principle of international cooperation are stipulated in the nation’s supreme law in addition to pacifism.

As for the so-called gray-zone incidents that do not amount to an armed attack, such as seizure of remote Japanese islands by foreign intruders disguised as fishermen, the report proposed improving the legal system so that a “seamless response” could be made even in peacetime.

Abe also said the matter would be studied on a priority basis during the ruling parties’s talks.

Seamless responses key

Such gray-zone incidents could happen at any time, given the background of China stepping up its naval presence and making intrusions into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands an ordinary practice.

Under the current Self-Defense Forces Law, SDF mobilization in line with the self-defense right is limited to cases in which Japan faces an armed attack. According to some observers, the current maritime security operations in which arms are allowed to be used under police authority are inadequate to bring armed special forces under control.

It is crucial to change the system so that the Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Coast Guard can respond swiftly and flexibly and use arms effectively.

Komeito is also showing a positive attitude toward preparing legal arrangements to deal with gray-zone situations, so the LDP should deepen discussions on the matter with its coalition partner.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 16, 2014)


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« 集団的自衛権―戦争に必要最小限はない | トップページ | 辺野古移設―これが熱望した祖国か »