/

Article 9 panel revived in collective defense bid

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reconvened a government policy advisory panel on security issues to review the move to reinterpret the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution so Japan can exercise collective self-defense.

Noting recent global power shifts and the changing security environment in the East and South China seas amid China’s growing military assertiveness, Abe told the panel Friday that he wants to look at ways in which Tokyo can contribute to peace and stability in the region.

“I want to consider what Japan can do to make the security alliance with the United States more effective,” Abe said at the start of the meeting.

The panel, headed by former Ambassador to the U.S. Shunji Yanai, was reconvened two weeks before Abe is scheduled to visit Washington for a summit with President Barack Obama, during which he is expected to raise the issue of enhancing the bilateral security pact. The United States used diplomatic channels Feb. 2 to tell Japan that collective self-defense will not be on the agenda for the summit.

The same panel was launched almost six years ago during Abe’s previous stint as prime minister. But he was unable to act on the report that it complied regarding how the nation could exercise the right of collective self-defense because of his abrupt resignation.

Yanai said Japan now faces new threats that go beyond the previous report’s scope, among them cyberterrorism, that the nation must also brace for.

“The (earlier report covered) threats posed by another country, but we now face more diverse threats,” Yanai said after the panel’s first session.

The latest report advocates that Japan be allowed to shoot down a ballistic missile flying over its territory, possibly toward the United States, to defend U.S. military ships on the high seas that are engaged in joint operations with the Maritime Self-Defense Force, to come to the defense of allies involved in U.N.-led peacekeeping operations and to provide logistics support for military forces engaged in such United Nations operations.