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2015年7月15日 (水)

安保法案公聴会 国際秩序の危機を直視したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Look squarely at international threats when debating security legislation
安保法案公聴会 国際秩序の危機を直視したい

Amid the increasing security threats Japan faces, enhancing deterrence and buttressing the Japan-U.S. alliance must be tackled urgently. This insight and the alarm felt by experts on international politics must be taken seriously.

Testifying during a public hearing held Monday at the House of Representatives special committee on security-related legislation, former diplomat Yukio Okamoto, who was recommended for testimony by the ruling parties, said, “It’s impossible for Japan to protect the lives of Japanese people and vessels single-handedly.” Okamoto was commenting on the sea-lanes between the Middle East and Japan. As reasons for his position, he cited destabilization in the Middle East, rampant activities of radical militant organizations and pirates, and China’s expanded maritime presence.

Referring to the significance of the security legislation, Okamoto said it would benefit Japan to “take part in a community to protect itself from the violence of a foreign enemy.”

With the progress of military technology and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, no country can today keep peace single-handedly.

Japan, which relies on trade for its survival, enjoys the benefits of international peace. So it is natural for it to contribute proactively to world stability, which also leads to ensuring security for the country.

Doshisha University President Koji Murata stressed the need for bolstering the Japan-U.S. alliance by referring to a change in the world’s power balance caused by the emergence of China and the decline of U.S. influence.

In connection with the fact that many constitutional scholars have concluded the government-proposed security bills are unconstitutional, Murata said: “Many experts on security issues will affirmatively respond to the bills. Constitutional scholars do not represent all scholars.”

Discretion for government

Given the fluidity of international affairs, Murata said it was unavoidable for the definition of a “survival threatening situation” — a condition allowing for a limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense — to remain ambiguous.

Determination of such situations is something that should be made by a sitting government while making an overall assessment of the circumstances at sites of conflict and the state of international affairs. Self-Defense Forces cannot be mobilized effectively unless a government is granted a certain degree of discretionary power.

Ryuichi Ozawa, professor at the Jikei University School of Medicine, who was recommended by the opposition camp, called for abandoning the bills, saying they are “unconstitutional.” Commenting on the right of collective self-defense, Sota Kimura, associate professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, said, “Use of military force when an armed attack on Japan has not been launched is by definition unconstitutional.”

But as for the exercise of the right of collective self-defense, strict criteria have been set, including threats that would undermine the people’s rights. Approving the exercise of the right is in line with judicial judgments and government interpretations that approve of self-defense measures to ensure the country’s survival. So it is not correct to assert the use of the right is unconstitutional.

Prof. Jiro Yamaguchi of Hosei University dismissed the security legislation as deviating from what is allowed under the principle of “an exclusively defensive security policy.” But use of military force in situations threatening Japan’s survival is assumed to be in line with the exclusively defensive security policy.

About 110 hours have been spent on deliberations on security legislation. In a wide-ranging debate, it seems that all questionable points have been presented for discussion.

Now that the public hearing, a prerequisite for a vote on the bills, has ended, it can be said that lower house deliberations on the matter are entering a final stage.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 14, 2015)


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