The new head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau said Monday he is eager to discuss rethinking the government’s current interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution.
Ichiro Komatsu, a former ambassador to France, said the bureau will be “proactively involved” in debating any changes to the current interpretation, indicating he may advocate lifting the ban on collective self-defense.
Komatsu was appointed chief of the legislation body, which offers legal advice to Cabinet members, on Aug. 8.
Successive governments have maintained that Japan cannot exercise the right to collective self-defense because doing so would exceed the minimum necessary to defend Japan, as permitted under the pacifist Constitution.
The head of the legislation bureau, which has for years upheld the interpretation, has customarily been picked from within its ranks.
But with the rare appointment of a Foreign Ministry official as new director general of the bureau, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to accelerate work aimed at enabling the nation to exercise the right to collective self-defense so that it can come to the aid of an ally under armed attack.
Komatsu said successive governments’ constitutional interpretations have “not been unilaterally decided” by the bureau and any conclusion on the issue of collective self-defense will be made “by the Cabinet as a whole.”
He said the general public “misunderstands” the role of the legislation bureau and believes it has a “final say” on legal interpretations.