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2015年9月20日 (日)

社説:安保転換を問う 安全保障法成立

September 19, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Diet distorts Constitution by passing security bills into law
社説:安保転換を問う 安全保障法成立


The Diet's enactment of the security-related legislation, opening the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, has raised serious questions about the fate of Japan's democratic politics. Numerous members of the public, including those who staged demonstrations against the legislation in front of the Diet building and elsewhere, undoubtedly have questions over the legislation, feel angry and are worried about the laws.

The House of Councillors passed the bills, which will drastically change Japan's basic national policy that the country has nurtured since the end of World War II, into law at a plenary session without addressing numerous questions and inconsistencies.

With the enactment of the legislation, Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense, and the overseas activities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will be drastically expanded.

Ruling coalition legislators, who belong to the legislative branch of the government, would not listen to the opinions of constitutional scholars and other experts who raised suspicions that the legislation violates the Constitution, which is the country's supreme law.


Yoshitada Konoike, chairman of the upper house special committee on the legislation, was quoted as saying that "I thought that there were so many flawed answers" that officials of the executive branch gave to questions during deliberations on the bills. Konoike made the remark after the panel railroaded the bills on Sept. 17 amid confusion. The minute of the session only states, "Impossible to hear" what the chairman and other members said during voting because of the confusion.

One cannot help but wonder how many ruling coalition legislators can proudly say the Diet had thorough debate on the bills.

The governing bloc not only unilaterally terminated deliberations at the committee but also submitted and passed a motion calling for limiting the time for debate on censure motions and other resolutions that opposition parties submitted in a bid to block the passage of the bills at a plenary session.

In other words, the citadel of discourse suppressed debate. The ruling coalition acted as if to say opposition parties should stop useless resistance because ruling coalition legislators far outnumber those from opposition parties.

Opposition parties attempted to block the move to pass the bills into law by also submitting a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the House of Representatives. However, legislators from the ruling bloc obviously felt they were simply waiting as time passed.

Throughout Diet deliberations, the Abe government maintained its self-righteous attitude with which it dismissed any opposition and opinions calling for prudence in enacting the legislation.

Numerous members of the general public are dissatisfied with and worried about the Abe administration's high-handed manner in which it dealt with the bills and the Diet that failed to stop the government's move as well as the contents of the laws.

It was one of Prime Minister Abe's long-cherished goals to open the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. The move leading up to the enactment of the security legislation began in summer 2014 when the Abe Cabinet reversed the government's longstanding interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution as banning Japan from exercising this right.

However, constitutional scholars and other experts pointed out one after another that the security bills are unconstitutional and public opposition to the bills intensified. However, the prime minister and other top government officials responded by only citing the 1959 Supreme Court ruling on the so-called Sunagawa Incident, in which the top court said Japan inherently has the right to self-defense, and other views, but failed to provide any convincing counter-argument to critics.

Article 98 of the Constitution stipulates that the Constitution is "the supreme law of the nation," and that no law contrary to the Constitution "shall have legal force or validity." The prime minister and other top government officials should know this. However, Yosuke Isozaki, an adviser to the prime minister who played a leading role in developing the legislation, stated that "legal stability is irrelevant."

This remark by Isozaki apparently reflects the true intentions of the Abe government. It is no exaggeration to say the administration went beyond the bounds of its authority as the executive branch and distorted the Constitution. Ruling coalition legislators went along with the move without raising questions. Komeito, the LDP's junior ruling coalition partner, also bears serious responsibility as it helped quickly enact the legislation while being aware that some of the party's supporters were opposing the bills.


Article 99 of the Constitution states that the Emperor or the Regent as well as Cabinet ministers, Diet members, judges and all other public servants "have the obligation to respect and uphold the Constitution." It is the basic principle of constitutionalism that the Constitution is not something that binds members of the public but something that restrains those in power and prevents them from abusing their power.

However, a draft of a new Constitution that the LDP worked out in 2012 states that the people should be aware that their freedom and rights are accompanied by duties and responsibilities and must not run counter to public good and public order.

The LDP's tendency to place priority on the state over individuals' rights has been growing since Prime Minister Abe returned to power in late 2012. The enactment of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets in 2013 and the security legislation is part of this tendency.

Diet deliberations on the security bills failed to clarify the criteria for cases in which Japan can deploy Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops overseas under the legislation.

In other words, such decisions are left largely to the discretion of the executive branch of the government.

Needless to say, the procedure for gaining approval of overseas deployment of SDF personnel from the Diet is of great importance.

However, serious questions remain as to whether the legislative branch can check whether dispatching SDF personnel overseas is appropriate in each mission, considering the way legislators deliberated the bills.

In 1960, the Diet ratified revisions to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty while fierce demonstrations against the move were staged outside the Diet building, just like the latest enactment of the security legislation. After then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, Abe's grandfather, stepped down, his successor Hayato Ikeda pledged to double the people's income, shifting the government's emphasis from security to economic growth.

Prime Minister Abe is expected to emphasize that his government will again attach importance to economic policies.

The prime minister and the ruling coalition made haste to enact the security legislation for fear that if deliberations on the bills continued until shortly before the summer 2016 upper house election, it would adversely affect the governing bloc's chance of winning the race.

The coalition apparently wants members of the public to forget the security legislation as soon as possible.

All the more because of this, members of the public must not forget legislators who helped the government recklessly move to enact the legislation by force of numbers.

毎日新聞 2015年09月19日 02時30分


« 社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決強行 民意に背を向けた政権 | トップページ | 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「人間の底力」 /東京 »





« 社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決強行 民意に背を向けた政権 | トップページ | 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「人間の底力」 /東京 »