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Fujimura eyes review of national strategy

Arms export ban, collective self-defense on table

by Masami Ito

Staff Writer

New Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Friday the government is planning to set up a panel to discuss a comprehensive national strategy, including the controversial right of collective self-defense and the ban on arms exports.

“We are imagining a high-level panel to discuss and promote policies related to national strategy, including diplomatic and security issues, and naturally such issues will be discussed at the highest level,” Fujimura said.

Japan in principle prohibits the export of arms and all weapons-related technology. But Democratic Party of Japan policy chief Seiji Maehara said Wednesday in Washington that Tokyo needs to ease the ban to strengthen Japan’s defense industry and enable it to participate in joint development with other countries.

Meanwhile, exercising the right of collective self-defense — the concept of a country helping any other country that is under attack — is forbidden under the government’s current interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution.

Some key DPJ lawmakers, including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, have stated the need for Japan to accept the right to exercise collective self-defense.

During an interview with media outlets, Fujimura stressed that the government’s current interpretation of the Constitution stands.

“The Noda administration has not changed the past interpretation,” Fujimura said. “Therefore, the government’s official position is that the use of collective self-defense is prohibited under Article 9 of the Constitution.”

Fujimura, the government’s top spokesman, also expressed his intention to work toward the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa. The base is now in a densely populated area in the city of Ginowan, and locals have long considered its presence a danger.

“One of the government’s top priorities is to mitigate the burden of U.S. military bases that are concentrated in Okinawa,” Fujimura said. “I plan to devote myself to remove the danger of the Futenma base as soon as possible, adhering to the Japan-U.S. agreement.”

The Futenma plan has been a source of friction between Japan and the United States. Then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama promised and failed to move the base out of Okinawa, disappointing and angering residents.

In the end, Tokyo and Washington went back to the original 2006 agreement to move it to Henoko on the northern part of the island. But amid strong protests from Okinawans, the relocation has stagnated.

Fujimura however stressed that Futenma should not remain in Ginowan.

“Gov. (Hirokazu) Nakaima has stated that Futenma cannot remain where it is and we agree with that,” Fujimura said. “We will hold further discussions with the Okinawa locals and actualize the relocation based on the Japan-U.S. agreement.”