Japan plans to revise the Self-Defense Forces Law this autumn so that force can be used to defend “countries with close relationships” facing a military attack, government sources said Saturday.
The legislative change will allow the use of force to be authorized as collective self-defense in such cases — even if Japan faces no direct military attack, the sources said.
Article 76 of the SDF law states that the prime minister can order the SDF to mobilize troops only when recognizing the need to defend Japan from direct military attack.
The countries designated as having close relationships with Japan will not be limited to the United States, either. They could also include Australia and the Philippines, for example, the sources said.
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to change the interpretation of the Constitution to legalize the use of collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of an ally under armed attack. In order to actually mobilize forces for collective self-defense, however, the government needs to revise the SDF law and expand the military’s responsibilities, sources said.
The changes to the SDF law would allow Japan to defend U.S. vessels on the high seas.
Under the proposal, the use of force under collective self-defense will be based on an order from the prime minister, who must get approval from the Cabinet. It also would require prior approval from the Diet, in principle, but that could come later in emergencies, the sources said.
The government is aiming to change the government’s interpretation of the supreme code at a Cabinet meeting after reaching a compromise with New Komeito, the smaller coalition partner of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.