Lawyers blast LDP bid to tweak Sunagawa ruling


Staff Writer

A group of lawyers released a statement Friday expressing outrage over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s recent move to “forcibly” interpret a high-profile 1959 Supreme Court ruling to justify its claim that Japan is allowed to wield the right to collective self-defense.

The ruling on the so-called Sunagawa Incident, in which seven people against the expansion of the now-defunct U.S. air base in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, were indicted for trespassing on the base, stated that “foreign” forces in Japan do not violate war-renouncing Article 9, concluding that U.S forces should be allowed to stay where they are.

In handing down the ruling, the top court said that despite the Constitution, Japan is granted the “inherent right to defend itself,” giving tacit approval to hosting the U.S. military.

Masahiko Komura, deputy head of the LDP, recently pointed out the ruling says Japan has the “inherent right” to take necessary self-defense measures to maintain its existence. He rationalizes these “necessary measures” include exercising the right to collective self-defense, although the ruling doesn’t explicitly say so.

The group, consisting of lawyers directly involved in the case, argued that nowhere in the ruling is mention made of “collective” self-defense. At best, they say, the ruling determines that Japan is allowed to defend itself when directly under foreign attack to “preserve its own peace and safety.”

It then blasted Komura’s claim as “egregiously out of common sense” and indicative of his “lack of understanding of how the right to self-defense is defined in the international community.”

Lawyer Hiroshi Yamamoto, who played a major role in compiling the statement, on Friday criticized the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet for dredging up a “completely unrelated, forgotten” ruling just to steamroll its agenda to reinterpret the Constitution.