No rush for nod on collective defense: Abe

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday he will not set any deadline for his Cabinet to approve the lifting Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising collective self-defense, stressing he allow time for consultation in the ruling coalition.

“I don’t have any preset time frame to cling to,” Abe, who doubles as head of the Liberal Democratic Party, said at a press conference in Brussels on the last leg of his six-nation trip to Europe. “I first want to have the ruling parties discuss the issue.”

The LDP’s junior coalition partner, New Komeito, is against exercising collective defense, or defending an ally under armed attack, because it views the change in security policy as too drastic.

Enabling the country to exercise the U.N. right requires the government to change its interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, and a panel of experts is studying the ramifications of such a shift.

Abe is expected to receive a report next week from a hand-picked panel of security experts that is expected to propose that Japan use the right under “limited conditions.” The government will then decide on a basic policy on the matter and seek support on it from the ruling parties.

Abe said that if he wins support from the ruling bloc, the Cabinet’s decision will be discussed at the Diet.

Referring to the need for a thorough debate, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo that the government does not see the closure of the Diet in June as the deadline for the Cabinet to approve the lifting of the ban for the entire nation.

Japan has maintained it has the right to collective self-defense under international law but can’t exercise it due to the constraints of Article 9, which forbids the use of force to settle international disputes.

Senior LDP and New Komeito lawmakers agreed Wednesday to have a thorough debate.

“We’d like to discuss the issue until we reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties,” LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba told his New Komeito counterpart, Yoshihisa Inoue in Tokyo.

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