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U.S. experts back Abe on SDF role

JIJI

Several former U.S. officials who remain engaged in Japanese affairs have urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense by the time the regular Diet session ends on June 22.

The group included former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell. He and the others held talks in Washington on Tuesday with lawmakers Katsuyuki Kawai, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Kenji Nakanishi, policy chief of the opposition Your Party.

Campbell said it is important to demonstrate that the United States and Japan are united, given East Asia’s changing security environment, Kawai said, citing Campbell. Kawai is a former chairman of the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Kawai added that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he fully supports Japan making a Cabinet decision by that time.

And Michael Green, former senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, said during a meeting with the lawmakers Monday that it is important to secure a Cabinet decision before the end of the Diet session, Kawai said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to change the interpretation of Japan’s Constitution in order to lift the country’s self-imposed ban on exercising its right of collective self-defense, which would allow the Self-Defense Forces to help allies under attack.

Kawai told a press conference after Monday’s talks with the U.S. experts he now believes the LDP and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, should wrap up discussions on collective self-defense and make a Cabinet decision on reinterpreting the Constitution by the end of the Diet session.

He said he will report the meetings to Abe upon return to Japan.