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Collective lawsuit being readied to challenge security laws

JIJI

A citizens’ group is preparing a collective lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the national security laws that were enacted on Saturday to allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

The group was formed by Mitsushige Yamanaka, mayor of Matsusaka, Mie Prefecture, and others in July last year in response to the government’s decision to change its constitutional interpretation to lift a ban on the use of the collective self-defense right.

The mayor aims to invite some 10,000 participants as plaintiffs in the lawsuit and file it as early as this year. At present, the group has some 1,000 members, according to the Yamanaka.

Setsu Kobayashi, constitutional scholar and professor emeritus at Keio University, who described the security bills as unconstitutional during a parliamentary hearing in June, is set to lead a group of over 20 lawyers in the suit.

The constitutionality of a law alone cannot be judged by courts, meaning that such a lawsuit needs to be accompanied by claims of rights violations or those for damages.

A series of lawsuits seeking to invalidate the July 2014 decision to lift the collective self-defense ban were all rejected. In a rare case, the Nagoya High Court ruled in 2008 that the dispatch of Self-Defense Force troops to Iraq was unconstitutional while a number of other suits seeking to suspend the dispatch were rejected.

A veteran judge said that if a lawsuit is filed against the national security laws, it is expected to become a closely watched case such as has not been seen in years.

Another judge raised questions whether a decision made by elected officials can be examined by judges who are not elected.