Former justice brands security bills as unconstitutional, slams Abe for sophistry


Former Supreme Court Justice Kunio Hamada on Tuesday contended that the planned national security bills are unconstitutional while speaking at a public hearing on the bills by the House of Councilors special committee.

The contentious bills “are unconstitutional, and there is no legitimacy in them,” Hamada said of the bills, which would allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or to come to the aid of an ally under military attack even if Japan itself is not attacked directly.

Hamada was among six people invited to express their views at the hearing — two recommended by the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling camp and four by the opposition side. The two participants backed by the ruling bloc voiced support for the bills, while the remaining four, including Hamada, spoke in opposition to them.

Kazuya Sakamoto, professor at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Law and Politics, who was recommended by the ruling side, praised the bills. The carefully crafted legislation “would increase deterrence significantly and boost (Japan’s) ability to contribute to world peace,” he said.

Takashi Shiraishi, president of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said, “It doesn’t make sense to treat the collective and individual self-defense rights separately” given the very close defense cooperation between Japan and the United States. He was also recommended by the ruling bloc.

Sakamoto said the Supreme Court is “unlikely to rule the legislation unconstitutional” after the expected passage of the bills.

But Hamada said, “There are no grounds for an optimistic view that no unconstitutional judgment will come out.” Blasting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Hamada said that Abe is employing sophistry when he says there is no change in Japan’s exclusively defense-oriented policy.

Among the remaining three recommended by the opposition side was Aki Okuda, a core member of Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy, or SEALDs, a student group that has been campaigning against the security bills.

“No proper debates have been held (on the bills) at the Diet,” Okuda said. “I cannot accept (the bills) … as explanations are far from enough,” he went on, requesting that the legislation be scrapped.

The bills are “nothing but war legislation,” said Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus at Keio University, who in June told the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution that the bills were unconstitutional.

Yoshiro Matsui, professor emeritus of Nagoya University, criticized the Cabinet’s decision in July last year to change the government’s interpretation of the Constitution to remove a self-imposed ban on the exercise of the collective self-defense right. The decision runs counter to the principle of constitutionalism, he said.