DPJ wary of SDF missions overseas

Kyodo News

Nearly three-quarters of Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers in the Lower House think overseas operations by the Self-Defense Forces should be limited to peacekeeping or humanitarian relief.

A survey found that 73.3 percent of the DPJ lawmakers think Japan has to be cautious about dispatching the SDF, while 12.4 percent support sending them to provide assistance to multinational forces, including logistic support. Only 1.0 percent of the DPJ members oppose any overseas dispatch.

The survey was conducted in mid-September after the DPJ won 308 seats in the Aug. 30 election. All 308 DPJ Lower House members were polled, of which 210 responded.

Fifty-three percent said they see no need to change the constitutional clause interpreted as banning Japanese participation in collective self-defense.

On the other hand, 19.5 percent want to change the interpretation of the clause or amend the Constitution so Japan can provide military support to an ally under attack.

The pacifist Constitution renounces war and forbids the country from waging a full-fledged war.

The responses to the questions about national security issues indicate that most Lower House members from the DPJ, which as a party is often divided over security policies, are not interested in a drastic change of policy.

On a favorable coalition framework, 72.4 percent chose a coalition of the DPJ, Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party).

Another 25.7 percent said the DPJ would be better off creating a government without a coalition partner. None of the respondents said the party should join hands with the Liberal Democratic Party or New Komeito.

On other issues, 85.7 percent said they want highway tolls abolished in their home district.