The government plans to ask the Diet for approval this fall to revise more than 10 laws to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a government source said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet plans to focus on amending existing legislation, rather than attempting to draft new overarching laws spelling out the basic principles of the major change he is seeking in national security policy, the source said Saturday.
Abe is expected to make a final decision on whether to lift the self-imposed ban on collective self-defense before the Diet closes for the summer on June 22.
Japan has long maintained that it has the right to collective self-defense, but cannot exercise it due to the limitations of the war-renouncing Constitution, which under Article 9 forbids the use of force to settle international disputes and allows only the minimum force necessary to defend the nation.
A panel of security experts appointed by Abe to study the issue of collective self-defense are likely to propose, in a report to be completed in April, that the ban be lifted.
But as part of his drive to alter the nation’s defensive posture, Abe has said Cabinet approval alone will be enough to change the government’s current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, raising concern across party lines that he is making light of Diet debate.
The planned revision of more than 10 laws would enable Japan to defend allies under armed attack, even if Japan itself is not attacked. Current law limits the Self-Defense Forces to a purely defensive role.
The 10 laws include those concerning how to deal with contingencies in areas surrounding Japan, piracy and U.N. peacekeeping operations.
The government aims to use the amendments to clarify how Japan will respond to foreign military attacks, counter contingencies in view of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs, and participate in peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions overseas.
Due to time considerations, as well as political realities, Tokyo is leaning toward trying the legal revisions first, rather than attempting to get Diet approval for two new major pieces of combat-related legislation, the source said.
Those two bills would include a basic national security law, and another setting out procedures for using the right to collective self-defense.
Japan and the United States are set to revise their defense cooperation guidelines by the end of the year, and the expected removal of the ban on collective self-defense would affect how the SDF and U.S. military cooperate on security challenges, the source noted.