WASHINGTON – Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba proposed Wednesday that Japan might consider finding other collective self-defense partners in addition to the United States, its closest security ally.
“We must discuss whether the United States should be the sole option or if the scope should be widened to include many other countries,” Ishiba, the No. 2 man in the party, told an event in Washington.
“Some say the possibility should be limited to the United States,” Ishiba told a symposium hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
“But there is an idea that we can create such a security network with countries with which we can share a set of values such as freedom, democracy and respect of human rights,” Ishiba said, citing Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Ishiba said that a minimum use of arms should be allowed regardless of whether action is taken individually or collectively “to secure the independence and peace of Japan, as well as the peace and stability of the international community.”
Ishiba made the remarks as Abe’s government seeks to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on the right to collective self-defense to raise regional deterrence under its alliance with the United States.
Successive governments have prohibited the Self-Defense Forces from fighting back for an ally when Japan is not under attack.
Ishiba, a former defense minister known for his extensive military knowledge, denied Japan would propose exercising the collective self-defense right for any ally at Japan’s own initiative.
“If we were to forge such a relation with South Korea, South Korea would have to ask Japan to exert the collective self-defense right,” Ishiba said.
Abe’s team is working on enabling the SDF to use the right to collective defense even under the war-renouncing Constitution. Many in the public and the LDP’s partner in the ruling coalition are reluctant to fully lift the ban.