Ex-official against defense change

JIJI

The government should not change its interpretation of the Constitution to open the way for the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a former Cabinet legal affairs chief said.

Such a change would cause substantial problems, Reiichi Miyazaki, former head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, said in an interview this week. The government “had better not change” the interpretation, he said.

In a report expected later this year, an advisory panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to propose that the government revise the interpretation so that Japan can aid allies that come under military attack.

After changing the constitutional interpretation, the government would need to revise related laws, including the Self-Defense Forces Act, but the revised laws could be scrapped under a future Cabinet or found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Miyazaki said.

“I maintain my view that Japan cannot exercise (the collective self-defense right) unless the Constitution itself is revised,” he said.

Miyazaki was the legal affairs chief between September 2006 and January 2010, including Abe’s first term as prime minister in the year through September 2007.

Miyazaki said he told Abe that it would be difficult to change the constitutional interpretation. He noted, however, that the bureau has no authority to block the Cabinet from changing the interpretation.