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Contingencies involving U.S. military to lead next round of talks on reinterpreting Constitution

Abe to break out 15 collective defense contingencies to woo skeptical Komeito

Kyodo

As part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to get Japan a greater security role overseas, the government is planning to present 15 military contingency scenarios at the ruling coalition’s ongoing talks this week, a source said.

The scenarios include one in which the Self-Defense Forces protect U.S. vessels in a military emergency when a neighboring country is preparing to launch a ballistic missile, the government source said Saturday.

Another involves the SDF protecting U.S. vessels carrying Japanese on the high seas, the source said.

The government disclosed 10 similar scenarios last week to suggest that Japan might have to break the Constitution and exercise its right to collective self-defense.

This time, the new cases will focus mostly on SDF protection of U.S. ships but drop one of the two scenarios that involved so-called gray zone incidents that stop short of full-fledged military attacks.

The government hopes the cases will help it persuade New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, to agree to reinterpreting war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution in backing Abe’s contentious security revamp.

Of the 10 cases presented last week, the government has decided to exclude a gray-zone scenario in which foreign submarines enter Japanese waters and refuse to leave despite repeated warnings, apparently out of consideration to arguments made by a skeptical New Komeito, the source said.

In informal talks with the two parties, the government decided to drop the scenario out of concern that any involvement by SDF personnel in such a case could lead to escalation of the situation, the source said.

As one of the key measures for seeking a greater security role for Japan overseas, the government aims to legalize the use of collective self-defense by reinterpreting or bypassing the war-renouncing Constitution.

A panel of security experts, handpicked by Abe, last week called for lifting the ban imposed by Article 9. Their approach to the issue appears to be based on a simple argument: that individual self-defense and collective self-defense are one and the same.