A series of recent events have shed light on the hawkish nature of the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. It is taking one step after another to undermine the no-war principle of the Constitution.
The Noda administration must be strictly criticized for these moves. In addition, it is doing so in a surreptitious way to avoid rousing wide public discussion and to avoid having to fully inform the people. These actions run counter to the basic principles of democracy.
The populous must remain vigilant over the administration’s moves and keep a keen eye in order to stop it from further undermining the nation’s no-war principle.
In the latest move, the administration is trying to change the interpretation of the Constitution so that Japan can exercise the right to collective defense. The result will be the total removal of the barriers that prevent Japan’s use of military force overseas.
In December 2011, the Noda administration drastically relaxed Japan’s long-standing weapons export ban. The move enabled Japan to jointly develop and produce weapons with other countries on the condition the cooperation contributes to Japan’s security and that the jointly developed weapons will not be exported to third parties. The change was made in the form of a statement by the chief Cabinet secretary.
Last month the Noda administration let the Diet undermine an important principle in the Atomic Energy Basic Act. At the insistence of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Japan agreed to insert into the Atomic Energy Basic Act a clause stating that the safety of nuclear power must be also ensured for the sake of the nation’s “security.”
The word “security” leaves room for stretching the interpretation of the clause, thus theoretically allowing Japan to use nuclear power facilities for military purposes.
The change to the basic act was carried out in an extremely crafty and legally questionable manner. The change was not done to the basic law itself but was included in supplementary provisions of a law to establish a Nuclear Regulatory Commission to replace the current Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Nuclear Safety Commission. (The new clause is also part of the NRC law.)
In addition, a clause stating that the development of space must be limited to peaceful purposes was dropped from the law regulating the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, paving the way for using space for military purposes.
On July 6, a subcommittee of the National Strategy Conference chaired by Mr. Noda proposed changing the long-standing interpretation of the Constitution so that Japan can exercise the right to collective defense.
Since the conference is primarily for discussing tax and economic policies, it is highly deplorable that a subcommittee at the conference made the proposal after just several meetings. There is no trace of Mr. Noda even trying to prevent the subcommittee from making the proposal. He said he would like to consolidate his Cabinet’s stance on the basis of that proposal.
The move will change the basic posture of not only Japan’s defense policy but also the Japanese state itself. The changes could lead to the limitless use of Japanese military force abroad. Reinterpreting the Constitution along the lines proposed by the subcommittee was wrong and should never be done.