LDP eyes stricter collective-defense criteria to appease New Komeito

Kyodo

Plans are underway to stipulate that the right to collective self-defense can only be exercised when Japan is directly threatened by regional “contingencies,” particularly on the Korean Peninsula, according to a government source.

Narrowing the definition of what constitutes a threat to national security is one way to put stricter conditions on using the banned right to defend allies under attack, the source said Saturday.

These conditions are being prompted by the Liberal Democratic Party’s need to persuade coalition partner New Komeito to back its effort to bypass the amendment process in revising the Constitution.

The Cabinet will likely receive a report Tuesday from a panel of security experts handpicked by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outlining its recommendations on the controversial issue. The panel is expected to propose that the long-held ban on exercising collective self-defense be lifted on six conditions — which the government is likely to accept, the source said.

After receiving the report, Abe plans to hold a press conference to announce his team’s basic policy for reinterpreting the pacifist Constitution.

Japan has the right to collective self-defense under international law but cannot exercise it due to the constitutional limits imposed by war-renouncing Article 9.

The clause forbids the use of force to settle international disputes and only allows the minimum force necessary for self-defense.

The move to more strictly define one of the six conditions — cases when Japan’s security is under threat — appears prompted by concerns about the ambiguity of its wording, which leaves the nature of those threats open to broad interpretation.

The six conditions proposed for exercising the right also include cases where countries with “close ties” to Japan are attacked, and when Tokyo has been clearly asked by allies for help.

Japan would also need to obtain approval from third countries for Japanese forces to pass through their territory, and the prime minister would need to make a comprehensive decision and seek Diet approval for exercising the right, the source said.