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2014年6月19日 (木)

集団的自衛権 機雷除去も可能にすべきだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Collective self-defense right should enable minesweeping
集団的自衛権 機雷除去も可能にすべきだ

The ruling parties are reaching the final stage of their talks over our nation’s right to collective self-defense. It is necessary to avoid narrowing, without much thought, the latitude to be afforded to this country if it is permitted to exercise the self-defense right.

The government has presented to the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito a draft version of a constitutional reinterpretation regarding the exercise of the collective self-defense right, with a view to finalizing the new stance on the right as a Cabinet decision.

The draft would permit the nation to exercise its collective self-defense right, though this would be limited to some cases, including the one described by such a phrase as “osore-ga aru,” or “there is a fear that...” The case in question is “if there is a fear that the people’s lives, liberty and property, and their right to the pursuit of happiness, could be profoundly violated.”

The draft was based on “three new conditions for exercising the right to self-defense,” a set of rules on that action proposed by LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura as a personal opinion.

The government and the LDP have said that the draft, if finalized as a Cabinet decision without any alterations, will enable the nation to properly deal with all eight scenarios cited by the government as examples of cases in which Japan should be able to exercise its collective self-defense right. The cases include this nation’s protection of U.S. vessels in an emergency and sea-lane minesweeping operations.

We believe the ruling parties should hasten to adjust their difference of opinion, and then reach a consensus without making any major changes to the draft.

Komeito is poised to demand “osore-ga aru” be deleted from or altered in the draft, hoping to narrow the latitude to be provided in the event that the self-defense right is exercised.

Though some Komeito members do believe our country should be permitted to guard a U.S. vessel carrying Japanese citizens in waters surrounding the nation, many party elements remain cautious about authorizing involvement in international minesweeping activities in such distant locations as the Middle East.

Action spoke louder than cash

Japan extended a massive $13 billion in aid for U.S.-led multinational forces in the Persian Gulf War of 1991. To raise funds for that assistance, the government went so far as to increase taxes. However, it should be noted that the rest of the international community highly rated the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s minesweeping operations in the Persian Gulf after the war—not Japan’s financial contribution.

If any country conducts minesweeping prior to a ceasefire between warring nations, that country’s action is to be regarded as the use of force. This forced the Japanese government to exercise restraint in joining minesweeping operations in the 1991 conflict. It was not until after a ceasefire was concluded that MSDF minesweepers were sent to the Gulf.

It is of great significance that the lifting of our nation’s self-imposed ban on exercising its collective self-defense right should pave the way for sending minesweepers to troubled waters even before a ceasefire is established between warring parties.

It is vital for a trading nation like Japan to ensure the safety of its sea-lanes.

This nation should be allowed to decide whether to use the MSDF’s minesweeping abilities during an emergency.

Some critics have argued that there is only a low probability that Japan may need to send minesweepers. They have also spoken of the technical difficulties in intercepting a ballistic missile flying over Japan to strike the United States. However, we doubt whether there is any point in debating the probability of such a situation erupting as well as the technical aspects in this regard.

The key to success in ensuring national security is to anticipate various critical situations and create a structure for adequately responding to such emergencies.

In fact, mines were planted in the Persian Gulf during the 1991 war. In the recent past, a senior foreign government official hinted at planting mines to blockade straits in the Middle East. If Japan and the United States complete their joint interceptor missile development program within several years, the appropriate procedures to intercept a missile aiming for Guam or elsewhere is a realistic issue that our country must seriously think about.

In changing the government’s constitutional interpretation of the collective self-defense right, it is important to afford the government room to consider all circumstances both at home and abroad and then decide how emergencies will be dealt with at its own discretion. Doing so is essential to enable the SDF to operate effectively in the event of an emergency.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 18, 2014)


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