The war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution should be revised so that Japan can participate in collective military action authorized by the U.N. Charter, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Saturday.
“I doubt whether Japan would be able to fulfill its obligations (to its allies) if the United Nations engages in collective security” operations, Abe said during a satellite TV program. “Japan had better have room to take part.”
Article 9 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.” A draft amendment compiled by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party administration limits the renunciation to war, and only says that Japan does not exercise force as a means of settling cross-border rows.
Abe’s remark about the nation’s participation in collective security campaigns under the auspices of the U.N. apparently indicates that, in his mind, this differs from the use of force prohibited in the LDP’s draft constitutional amendment.
The prime minister also reaffirmed his intention to prioritize a revision of Article 96 to ease the current requirements for enacting constitutional amendments. The article stipulates that revisions of the Constitution must be initiated by a two-thirds or more majority in both chambers of the Diet.
“After revising Article 96, I hope to start with areas in which national debate has deepened,” Abe said, indicating he does not intend to rush through an amendment of Article 9.
On the economic front, he pointed to recent rises in the prices of imported goods due to the yen’s decline and said his government will remain vigilant to prevent other businesses from jumping on a price hike bandwagon.
To cope with increasing prices for imported fuel, Abe said the government will expedite negotiations with the United States, Russia and Middle Eastern nations, stressing Japan will “purchase energy from as low-priced sources as possible.”
Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, Abe, who is expected to announce Japan’s entry into the multilateral initiative soon, said his administration would strongly negotiate to safeguard the nation’s interests.
He further said it is no surprise that countries that joined the ongoing negotiations at a much earlier stage are concerned that latecomers like Japan might thwart measures that have already been settled.