Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested Tuesday that the Constitution should be amended to give Japan the power to fully exercise the right to collective self-defense.
Referring to a proposed revised constitution presented by his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in April 2012, Abe said that draft was based on the view that Japan “can exercise the right, as guaranteed by international law, to firmly safeguard the lives of the Japanese people.”
Abe was responding to a question by a Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker in a Diet session regarding whether he thinks the government should enable the Self-Defense Forces to exercise every right to self-defense, including collectively and individually.
Last September, Abe’s ruling coalition pushed controversial bills through the Diet that effectuate a Cabinet decision in July 2014 to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense under strict conditions, such as Japan’s survival coming under threat.
Before the legislation, previous governments maintained a self-imposed ban on collective self-defense. Under the new laws, the SDF can now defend the United States or other friendly nations under armed attack when Japan faces “a situation that threatens its survival.”
The legislation limits Japan’s exercising of the right to collective self-defense to cases such as contingencies on the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea poses a threat to the region with its missile and nuclear weapons development, and in the East China Sea where Japan is embroiled in a dispute with Beijing over the Senkaku Islands.
Abe has called for increased public debate about amending the Constitution, saying it will be an important issue in this summer’s Upper House election.
He wants to revise the second paragraph of war-renouncing Article 9, saying there is a contradiction between the existence of the SDF and the ban on Japan maintaining armed forces.
The second paragraph of the article says, “Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”
The Constitution has not been altered since its promulgation in November 1946.