The government is looking at drafting a new law to set up the legal procedures for collective self-defense and to make Diet approval mandatory for Japan to exercise the U.N.-declared right, a source said Saturday.
The new law would be designed to serve two purposes, the government source said. One is to give the Diet the power to block military action, and the other is to help the ruling Liberal Democratic Party win support from the opposition parties, as well as its Buddhist-backed coalition partner New Komeito, which fears that permitting collective defense would put Japan at risk of being dragged into a war waged by other countries.
Nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to change the government’s interpretation of the U.S.-drafted Constitution to allow the use of collective self-defense, which would enable Japan to come to the aid of an ally under armed attack.
For decades, Japan has observed a self-imposed ban on the right in keeping with Article 9 of the Constitution, which forbids the use of force to settle international disputes.
The LDP-led government aims to submit a bill on creating the new law when the Diet convenes early next year.
In light of the changing security environment, a government panel on security issues, recently placed under new leadership, is expected to propose that Japan somehow be allowed to exercise the right in a report this fall.
Even if Abe’s government gives the go-ahead to reinterpret the war-renouncing Constitution, a new law will be needed because Japan does not have any legal procedures in place to invoke the right to collective self-defense.
According to the plan, the prime minister would order officials to draft a basic policy specifying exactly how Tokyo would respond if a country that Japan shares close ties with, such as the United States, comes under armed attack and requests military assistance.
If approved by the Cabinet and the Diet, the Self-Defense Forces would then provide military assistance in accordance with the policy, the source said. The law will also stipulate that the use of collective self-defense be stopped if the Diet objects, the sources added.
But experts say that whether retrospective approval should be allowed in combat emergencies might emerge as a point of controversy.
To prepare the legal framework for exercising the right, the Abe administration also plans to revise the SDF law, which currently stipulates that military forces should only be dispatched for defensive operations if Japan comes under armed attack, and limits the use of weapons strictly to the defense of the country.