LDP's No. 2 backs rescue missions

Ishiba takes shot at SDF weapons curb

Kyodo, JIJI

In response to the deadly terrorist raid in Algeria earlier this month, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba said Sunday that the Self-Defense Forces should have the right to use weapons to rescue Japanese caught up in armed conflicts overseas.

The security hawk called for relaxing legal restrictions on the SDF’s use of weapons abroad, which are based on the current interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution, for rescue missions. He made the remarks on a debate program on NHK.

“It is the government’s primary responsibility to protect the lives and property of Japanese nationals. . . . Minimum necessary use of weapons (to fulfill such a responsibility) cannot be regarded as the exercise of force” banned by the Constitution, Ishiba said, indicating his willingness to amend the Self-Defense Forces Law.

Article 9 of the Constitution stipulates that the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes, and that land, sea and air forces, or any other military means, will never be maintained to accomplish that aim.

Ishiba is a strong advocate of revising the Constitution to allow the SDF to have a more active role in the international community. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the LDP chief, has pledged to revise the Constitution and position the SDF as a national defense force and explicitly allow them to engage in collective self-defense, or to defend an ally under armed attack.

Tokyo has long held that while Japan has the right to collective self-defense, it cannot exercise the right because doing so would violate the pacifist Constitution.

On Jan. 16, foreign workers at a gas plant in eastern Algeria were taken hostage by Islamist militants. A rescue effort by Algerian forces resulted in the deaths of 37 hostages from eight countries, including 10 Japanese, and 29 militants.

Separately on Saturday, sources said autopsies on the bodies of Japanese killed in the hostage crisis revealed damage from weapons fire and explosions.

The victims may have been caught in firefights between Islamic militants and Algerian forces trying to rescue them.

On Saturday, the day he returned home after being dispatched to deal with the hostage crisis, Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Minoru Kiuchi told reporters “it’s true that hostages died during the military operations.” But, he added, “most of them are presumed to have been shot to death by terrorists.”

Kanagawa Prefectural Police have opened an investigation on charges of murder, abduction and confinement of the Japanese victims under a penal code provision that allows authorities to investigate criminal offenses committed against Japanese overseas.

Police autopsies on the nine bodies brought home on a government plane Friday showed some contained metal fragments apparently from explosions at the plant, the sources said.

Police will try to determine whether each was killed by the terrorists or members of the Algerian military by evaluating the results of the autopsies and analyzing the fragments found in the bodies, the sources said.

  • Edohiguma

    Not a bad idea. The JSDF’s special forces would have done a much better job at this than the locals with their spray and pray assaults.

  • Agree, time to remove Article 9 and for Japan to move out of the 1950’s and in to 2013. Also time to set up PMCs in Japan that can be hired to protect Japanese over seas like what Australia, UK and the USA and other countries have.

  • StevenStreets

    bullshit….if the Algerians wont allow US Navy Seals to operate they wont allow SDF either…this is just an excuse to start manufacturing military debt depreciation of Yen…the root cause of WW2 and its tragic consequences. Stand fast on your Constitution Japan so you can claim a glorious victory worthy of your heritage one day by leading the future world in an end of war and military debt.

    • Will Caruthers

      That’s easy to say and comes across as marvelously enlightened, but when the article you’re defending would force Japan to sit idly by as a North Korean missile aimed at an ally goes whizzing overhead, then it’s time to revisit the article. A constitution written to reflect military and geopolitical realities of the 1940s can reasonably be expected to need to be tweaked now that technology and world relations have fast-forwarded by seventy years.

      Also, don’t forget that a culture of appeasement and accommodation in the face of naked aggression had more than a little to do with WW2. Your “root cause” is but one of many.

  • Guest

    Staying non-aggressive and neutral is not necessarily synonymous with being unarmed, nor is Japan unarmed. It is a question of balance.
    But dealing with those that are aggressive is always a problem…being smarter is usually better in those situations.

  • C.M. Hermansen

    If Japan’s armed forces had had this right ten days ago, would they automatically have been deployed in Algeria? Could they be deployed in the USA, the next time a Japanese teenager is assaulted there? Or would the Japanese government respect local consent or veto to such deployments?

    • Guest

      ??? my best guess is that being armed doesn’t mean instant aggression and disrespect for International boundaries and conventions, no matter which country you are talking about…

  • gg

    I also think the revision of Constitution is needed. We should protect ourselves by our power, SDF. The renouncing war is a thought of the peace-addicted. Considering the global condition, this concept is too early I think.

  • Nazonohito

    Strictly speaking, the Japanese Constitution should not prohibit such actions even in its current form.

    “[…] the Japanese people forever renounce war […] and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

    Stictly speaking, “international disputes” require the involvement of two, or more, nation-states being opposed to one another in said dispute. Therefore, use of force against any group that lacks the sponsorship or authority of a nation-state (e.g. pirates, terrorists, etc.) should not be considered an “international dispute” – even if said actions occur within international waters or even within the territory of another nation (as long as said nation has given Japan permission to engage in such actions)… Now, if Japan were to send the JSDF into a country on a rescue mission without the permission of said country, *then* we’d have a genuine “international dispute”.