The government is considering amending laws to allow the Self-Defense Forces to deploy to come to the aid of allies under attack, sources said Thursday.
It comes a week after the Cabinet made the historic decision to change its interpretation of the pacifist constitution to permit the use of the U.N. right to collective self-defense.
Article 76 of the SDF law stipulates that troops can be mobilized for defense operations when Japan is under attack or faces a clear risk of attack. The Defense Ministry is considering revising the article to allow SDF troops to be mobilized when countries “with close ties” with Japan are under attack if the rights of Japanese citizens are facing a clear risk of being fundamentally undermined, the sources said.
The government plans to submit the revision to the Diet early next year, the sources said. The move is part of broader efforts by the government to put the historic shift in defense policy into practice. Following the July 1 Cabinet decision on collective self-defense, the ministry established a task force to consider the needed legal revisions.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Thursday expressed support for expanding SDF cooperation with the U.S. Marines in technology and equipment ahead of the SDF’s launch of its first amphibious force, Japanese officials said. The launch is expected by the 2017 fiscal year.
“Acquiring know-how on real-life combat operations is important,” Onodera told reporters after meeting with Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, commanding general for the Marine’s Combat Development Command, at the Quantico base in Virginia. “We intend to closely communicate” with the Marines, he added.Glueck‘s command serves as a base for research in training, tactics and weapons development for the Marine Corps.
At the Pentagon earlier on Thursday, Onodera took a ride in an Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft, a model the SDF is set to acquire from the 2015 fiscal year. The minister said the Osprey could be used to defend remote islands, telling reporters that the aircraft, which can take off like a helicopter and cruise like a fixed-wing airplane, “can land on a very tiny space, while flying far at high speed.”