SDF right to jointly defend military camps eyed for PKO legal revision

Kyodo

The peacekeeping cooperation law may soon be altered to give the Self-Defense Forces authorization to jointly defend encampments they share with foreign military forces, government sources said Sunday.

In addition, SDF personnel participating in U.N. peacekeeping missions would become responsible for guiding Japanese citizens in danger to safety, the source said, adding that current restrictions on weapons use would likely stay in place during both of the proposed activities.

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is hearing growing demands to let SDF soldiers join foreign military forces if it is necessary to defend premises shared during peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, the Golan Heights, Haiti or other places, the sources said.

The task of guiding Japanese to safety would apply to situations in which people are about to become embroiled in riots, they said. It would not include hostage rescue.

In both of the new tasks the SDF would be allowed to carry out under the legal revision, peacekeepers would be allowed to use minimal armed force to protect people and equipment under their control. The Constitution bans the use of weapons overseas, but this type of situation would not be considered a violation according to the government’s interpretation of the Constitution, the sources said.

Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka has said his ministry is considering submitting a bill to revise the peacekeeping law to the Diet before it closes June 21. But such legislation is likely to be blocked by the opposition-controlled House of Councilors.