A government panel looking into reinterpreting the Constitution to allow Japan to engage in collective self-defense may go a step further by proposing that the Self-Defense Forces be allowed to take part in U.N.-led collective security operations, a key member of the group said.
The panel, formed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is expected to include the proposal in a report to be drawn up by late November, according to Shinichi Kitaoka, acting chairman of the panel and president of International University of Japan.
Japanese governments have traditionally interpreted the Constitution as banning Japan from participating in U.N. collective security missions aimed at imposing military and economic sanctions on a country that has been deemed a risk to world peace, based on the United Nations Charter, if such operations involve the threat or use of force.
But Kitaoka said this interpretation is incorrect. “Collective security is the obligation” of U.N. member nations, he said, criticizing the traditional stance.
The Constitution should not be interpreted as banning the use of force under such collective security operations, Kitaoka said, suggesting the panel will propose a new interpretation of the charter that allows Japan to join U.N. and multinational forces on missions based on U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Japan should adopt international standards on the use of weapons in U.N. peacekeeping missions, he said, suggesting the nation’s own strict guidelines are unnecessary.
Kitaoka said the panel will also propose changing the interpretation of the Constitution to allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a key goal of the Abe administration.
Under the current interpretation, the government is prohibited from exercising this right because of international law and because Article 9 of the Constitution limits the use of force to the minimum necessary to protect Japan.
Exercising the right falls within the minimum necessary for self-defense, Kitaoka said. “What can be done should be decided by law,” he said, arguing Japan should use laws instead of the Constitution when placing limits on exercising the right.
As for how to change the interpretation, he cited three options — a statement by the prime minister, a Cabinet decision or the enactment of a national security law.
Japan should not draw a line between allies and other countries in exercising the right to collective self-defense, Kitaoka said, suggesting the nation can defend partners other than the United States.