Abe wants to enable SDF to rescue citizens overseas


Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he wants to discuss granting the Self-Defense Forces a mandate to evacuate Japanese nationals from crises overseas.

His comments came on the heels of filmed beheadings of two Japanese citizens by Islamic State extremists.

Abe has long argued the SDF should be given greater roles to defend the lives of Japanese overseas by removing strict legal restrictions on its operations. His efforts have raised concerns among liberal pacifists in Japan.

He told the Upper House Budget Committee on Monday it is important to consider such changes for the SDF’s mandate given the events of the past two weeks. He said it is his duty to protect the lives of Japanese nationals worldwide, describing himself as the “chief executive” of that assignment.

However, Abe said Japan will not join the coalition conducting airstrikes on Islamic State targets, and neither will it aid the effort with logistics support.

“At this stage, even if Japanese nationals, including members of nongovernmental organizations, are in danger overseas, (the SDF) can’t rescue them, even with consent from countries involved,” Abe said. “I want to discuss ways to enable the rescue” of Japanese citizens overseas.

He added that there are many Japanese workers with nongovernmental organizations working around the world. “We will consider the possibility of using arms to eliminate danger and to rescue” these individuals and others, he said.

Abe is set to submit new security-related bills to the Diet this spring, possibly including one designed to allow the SDF to deploy units to rescue Japanese citizens overseas during emergencies.

The change would allow the SDF to deploy to foreign nations with their consent in order to rescue Japanese citizens in trouble.

But this would probably have been insufficient to secure the release of the hostages in the latest crisis. Journalist Kenji Goto and self-styled security contractor Haruna Yukawa were being held by a nonstate actor in a location where the national government — either Syria or Iraq — had little control and it might have been impossible to gain the consent of local authorities for deployment.

In addition, dispatching SDF personnel on such a hostage rescue mission would increase the likelihood of Japan being dragged into war, experts say.

The planned security bills also include legislation based on the Cabinet’s controversial decision last year to reinterpret the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to allow the nation to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of an ally under attack.

Abe said Monday he sees no need to pose a geographical limit to exercising the right, meaning that as long as a situation meets the government’s criteria, the SDF may be dispatched anywhere worldwide.

Asked about whether acting in collective self-defense might make Japan a target for terrorism, he replied that the overriding factor is the nation’s responsibility as a member of the international community to join efforts to rid the world of terrorism.

“Basically, we will push ahead with ‘proactive pacifism’ to realize a world without terrorism,” he said, adding that the important thing is not to worry about what terrorists would think but to secure the peace and stability of the Middle East, Japan’s primary source of petroleum.

“No country can escape from the threat of terrorism,” he said. “That’s why the international community needs to cooperate and share information to combat it.”

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito camp plan to start discussions on the content of the security legislation this month.

  • Aru Hito

    Abe must resign to take responsibility for the killing of the hostages. That is the honorable action for a Japanese leader. Does he have no honor?

  • Yosemite_Steve

    Wow, nice photo (not!) — really makes Abe look lost doesn’t it? Certainly not the poker face of a resolute leader.

    I note with deep interest a 180 degree difference in the tone of this article vs how the New York Times reports under the headline “Departing From Country’s Pacifism, Japanese Premier Vows Revenge for Killings”. This continues into the 2nd paragraph: “Such vows of retribution may be common in the West when leaders face extremist violence, but they have been unheard of in confrontation-averse Japan— until now. The prime minister’s call for revenge after the killings of the journalist, Kenji Goto, and another hostage, Haruna Yukawa, raised eyebrows even in the military establishment, adding to a growing awareness here that the crisis could be a watershed for this long pacifist country.”

    Of course different people report different news under entirely different slants, however I for one am fascinated in the degree to which the NYT frames this as a very aggressive Abe statement vs this Reuters staff report.

    I don’t make any value judgement either way — I believe that the US neocons reactions to 9/11 and their massive failure at executing a ‘global war on terror’ shows how likely establishment politicians and military anywhere are to make catastrophic blunders in the face of any crisis. Nothing Japan could do could have nearly the same degree of tragic effects. But I do think this incident could be an interesting bellwether for “Abe diplomacy” and as such may be fascinating.

  • Ramesh

    Japan should ban Islam route cause of terrorism as done by Angola.

  • mickrussom

    Japan needs to grow a set of balls and start actively putting Islam in the trash can where it belongs. We dont negotiate with these animals, we should be shutting this stuff down.

    • John Ax

      Muslims are not animals. Like all races and religions there are extremists and those are the ones that should be shut down. FTFY

    • John

      Islam is not the problem and Muslims aren’t animals and yet your comment is too offensive !

      Groups of terrorists who fight in name of Islam and distort its image in the Middle East should be entirely uprooted. Why people don’t talk about the ruthless Syrian regime which created ISIS with the help of Iran in order to continue murdering what left of Syria’s population away from international media ?! what about the humanitarian plight of Syrians and Iraqis now who are victims of both ISIS and the Syrian regime ?!

    • James

      What about Christian animals?

    • Merchant Mmo

      Their neighbors china and S.korea still squawk about the war 70 years ago so they cant. Gotta rely on the good ol’ USA =P

  • KenjiAd

    “Basically, we will push ahead with ‘proactive pacifism’ to realize a
    world without terrorism,” he said, adding that the important thing is
    not to worry about what terrorists would think but to secure the peace
    and stability of the Middle East, Japan’s primary source of petroleum.

    Emphasis mine. “he” – PM Abe

    Wait… Isn’t this basically what Bush/Cheney was saying before the invasion of Iraq (even though they didn’t explicitly said it was about oil) and that premature “mission accomplished” proclamation?

    We all know how well that adventure turned out to be.

  • tisho

    HA ! I told you ! For anyone that mocked my last comment on the article of the Japanese hostages, now go back and read it again and see that everything i said happened! I told you so! This is a confirmation that i was right that the hostages and all this was all staged and planned in order to push Abe’s agenda ! I told you so ! Go back and read my full comment !! It feels good to be right..

  • timefox

    Even if killing is wandering a downtown, the group which blames and excludes a policeman is here. Is the killing made postured in your country? They kills others by their logic. Killing lost room of a discussion.

    Don’t pardon for the group which announced that subversive activity was performed in Tokyo. Catch them who supports terror group.

  • John Ax

    Japan has been a pacifist country way too long. It’s time they start deploying their SDF and help the global effort in combating a common enemy. ISIS has no boundaries and they will pervade all countries.

  • Kiuri

    Who in his right mind wants to oppose Abe on this count??? I can’t even imagine. I guess only those who wish Japan remain helpless in the hostage situations like this Goto case? Certainly not friends of Japan.

  • Eduardo Heinrich Sanchez

    Is “Hate Speech” terrorism? Are Zainichi Koreans Japanese? The You-Tube video of a young woman threatening to murder – all Koreans – and to get out of Japan…Will Prime Minister Abe deploy the Self-Defense troops to protect Japan’s residents from this form of terror? These issues along with the stomping out of democracy in Okinawa needs to be addressed before Japan deals with defense of its citizens abroad. Time to answer the United Nations on the “Hate Speech” issue at home. Prime Minister Abe’s executive responsibility needs to make a stand against terror at home.

    Abe said. “I want to discuss ways to enable the rescue” of Japanese citizens overseas.

    Abe’s government is getting ready to put the Jugong on the chopping block and already well on his way to “decapitating” democratic processes in Japan.

    Are there laws against using public funding for buying votes?

    Former Governor Nakaiima was promised more government budget money than was asked.

    Governor Onaga is being given the cold shoulder by Abe’s government. The Okinawa people are being punished for voting against Abe’s Henoko plan.

    “Hate Speech” issues are being ignored in Japan. Those who support Japan’s military revival are quite about the “hate speech” issues. This is a truly “masochistic” way of looking towards the future, by allowing the sadistic spirit of hate and war fester unchecked until it regains its footing to turn back the clock. After 70 years what has been gained.

    Democracy is being trampled. Peoples lives are being threatened. All of the seeds of terrorism being planted. What is Prime Minister Abe hoping to harvest…

    Japan can lead the world towards a “Pacific 22nd Century”. May peace prevail on earth. The defense against terrorism needs to be made with countries in the world who stand on the side of justice and democracy. Terror will feed the spirit of hate, lead to “mistakes”, controversy and fueled by greed of a few, who will convince our youth to give their lives for empty glories past.

  • Jeffrey

    Interesting survey data. I don’t have time to go through the Pew report, but my guess is that the vast majority of those who responded favorably to the question live in the ME, S. Asia and C. Asia. What I do know about Muslims around the globe would lead me to believe that for Indonesian Muslims this would be a minority view (though statistically, even 20% is a minority view). And numerically, Indonesia is the largest Muslim majority nation.

    I’ve long said, and I’ve been studying this off and on for about 30 years, is that we, meaning the West in general and the U.S. in particular, need to disengage from the ME, Pakistan and Afghanistan if we want to remove the targets from our collective backs. That region and these nations need to be held at arms lengths. Their perceived strategic importance to us has always been overstated. The same is true for Israel.