Masahiko Komura, deputy head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has called on the government to revise its interpretation of the Constitution to lift the self-imposed ban on collective self-defense before the Diet closes on June 22.
“I believe Prime Minister Shinzo Abe thinks it’s better to revise the government’s interpretation during the current session and then have the Diet discuss it, rather than changing the interpretation after the session,” Komura said in a recent interview. “I think that’s acceptable.”
Another reason Komura gave for revising the Constitution this summer is the plan to renew the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines later this year.
“Some possible cases can be dealt with by individual self-defense or police authority, but others may need to involve the exercise of the right of collective self-defense,” Komura said.
He also welcomed the support received from the U.S. in a joint statement after the Japan-U.S. summit last week for Japan’s consideration.
Even within the LDP, some lawmakers were skeptical about whether Washington would support Tokyo on the issue, he said.
“The statement came amid that skepticism and is expected to boost” Abe’s bid, Komura said.
But Komura also warned that lawmakers do not necessarily deliberate on basic security legislation, as proposed by LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba for SDF operations under collective self-defense, before they handle legal revisions required for such operations.
Asked whether the LDP will be able to gain support from its ruling coalition partner, New Komeito, for reinterpretation, Komura said, “A Cabinet decision to change the long-standing interpretation will be significant, so the ruling bloc’s consensus is desirable.”
While he maintains that the minimum-required exercise of the right of collective self-defense is justified by a 1959 Supreme Court ruling in a case on the so-called Sunagawa incident, New Komeito rejects that view.