LDP, New Komeito differ over collective self-defense

JIJI

Officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner New Komeito struggled over the weekend to find common ground on the right to collective self-defense.

In a TV program Sunday, LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba repeated his support for the idea of allowing Japan to use the right.

“How we should maintain deterrence in this region is the most important thing” in discussing the issue, he said.

New Komeito Secretary-General Yoshihisa Inoue called for holding a more careful discussion on the sensitive issue.

“A national consensus must be sought because the matter is related to national security,” he said, adding Japan also needs to make efforts to assure the global community.

In response, Ishiba said the LDP will redouble its efforts to win over its Buddhist coalition ally.

“First, we should work to find common ground with New Komeito,” he said.

A panel in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is slated to compile a report in April on whether the government’s interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution should be changed to lift the self-imposed ban on using the right to collective self-defense. The ban is in place because Article 9 of the Constitution forbids the use of force to settle international disputes — including those Japan might get dragged into under collective self-defense.

Abe wants to change the interpretation.

The opposition parties, for their part, are clearly divided on the issue.

Akihiro Ohata, secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Japan, is staunchly opposed to changing the current interpretation of the Constitution.

“The stance should not be taken that everything can be done if the prime minister makes a decision,” he said on the TV program, calling the approach “reckless.”