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2014年6月12日 (木)

集団的自衛権 「容認」閣議決定へ調整を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ruling parties must accelerate talks toward Cabinet decision on defense
集団的自衛権 「容認」閣議決定へ調整を急げ

Thorough discussions are needed on whether to approve the exercise of the right to collective self-defense because it greatly affects the future security of Japan. The government and ruling parties are responsible for reaching a definite conclusion on the matter when the time comes to do so.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has issued a directive to accelerate consultation talks between the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito so that exercise of the collective defense right can be approved by the Cabinet. LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura has asked the government to draft a document to allow the exercise of the collective defense right, taking into consideration a plan for the Cabinet decision to be made before the current ordinary Diet session ends on June 22.

The Abe administration has been patiently carrying out procedures on the matter, including recommendations by an expert panel, consultations between the ruling parties and intensive debate in the Diet. After deciding on a new view of the collective defense right at a Cabinet meeting, the government plans to establish necessary legislative arrangements in the Diet.

The idea of permitting the minimum necessary exercise of the collective defense right may be a realistic change of the constitutional interpretation on the matter because it has a certain coherence with the conventional, overly restrictive interpretation.

Komeito has argued that it is possible to uphold operations such as the protection of U.S. warships and minesweeping, which can be conducted based on the right to individual self-defense and police power. But that argument is not reasonable for all cases. It is more rational to endorse such operations in line with the idea of approving a limited exercise of the collective defense right.

We urge the LDP and Komeito to steadily pursue their bilateral talks to reach a consensus on the matter.

Easy compromise questionable

In their consultation talks with Komeito, the government and the LDP have made concessions repeatedly to Komeito in connection with the Self-Defense Forces’ logistic support activities and measures to cope with so-called gray-zone incidents that fall short of a wartime attack.

Easily compromising on some specific items out of the desire to hasten discussions on the focal issue of the collective defense right is questionable.

The government on June 3 presented four conditions—including work in combat zones and providing supplies and services to be used in combat—under which SDF logistic support for multinational forces is banned as it would be considered “integrated with the use of force” by other countries, a condition prohibited by the Constitution. But the government withdrew these criteria three days later.

Instead, the government presented three criteria on logistic support—no support will be given in combat zones, support will be suspended when combat starts and search and rescue operations for humanitarian purposes will be conducted as exceptions.

The government’s view of logistic support has been too strict. Even the provision of information and supplies for foreign troops in a multinational force has been restricted on the grounds that such activities could be considered “integrated with the use of force.”

The four requirements for logistic support, which were also approved by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, can be seen as a significant step in clarifying the definition of “integrated with the use of force.” The four conditions essentially represent a constitutional judgment, so they should not be changed based on a political judgment. The four constitutional conditions and the three political requirements are supposed to be compatible.

New legislative arrangements for gray-zone incidents, such as the seizure of a remote island by an armed group, have been put on the back burner. This is because Komeito, the National Policy Agency and the Japan Coast Guard are wary of SDF roles expanding.

Instead, the government reportedly plans to improve the procedures for a Cabinet decision to speed up the issuance of an order to the SDF for maritime safeguarding activities. This can be regarded as a step forward, but giving the SDF greater authorization on the use of arms is indispensable for the SDF to act effectively. The matter must be studied further.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 10, 2014)


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