As the Diet kicked off an ordinary session on Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his policy speech that he will tackle the issue of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense on the basis of a report to be issued by a panel of experts, which is a private advisory body for him. For the first time in his current tenure, he mentioned the issue in a Diet speech. Although he did not use a direct expression, his intention is clear: to change the government’s long-standing constitutional interpretation that under the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, Japan cannot exercise the right to collective self-defense.
If the Abe government achieves its goal, it will pave the way for Japan to engage in military operations abroad with other countries, especially the United States. Such a change would completely alter postwar Japan’s basic posture of “defense-only defense,” which is designed to ensure it will not repeat the mistake of walking the path to war as it did in the last century — with tragic results for both the region and Japan. The “defense-only defense” posture helped Japan regain the international community’s trust in the postwar period.
Japan’s embracing of the right to collective self-defense would cause friction with neighboring countries and destabilize the regional security environment. It is deplorable that Abe is trying to discard this stance, which has allowed the nation to prosper, on the strength of a report of a private advisory body. The Diet should stop Abe’s effort, which is tantamount to revising the Constitution without following the standard procedure for doing so.
Abe said in his Diet speech that freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the basis of global prosperity and that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of the foundation. But he does not seem to be aware that his own actions, including his Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni Shrine, are raising suspicions in the U.S. regarding his beliefs about the postwar international order and the current security environment, and as a result are weakening the Japan-U.S. alliance. He needs to realize the toll his actions are taking on Japan-U.S. relations and make strenuous efforts to regain Washington’s trust
In his speech Abe said that the door for dialogue with China is open, apparently unaware that he slammed it shut when he visited Yasukuni. He doesn’t seem to realize that he needs to make strenuous efforts to improve Japan-China ties. Abe has an extremely nationalistic view of Japan’s wartime history and the postwar international order, and seems oblivious to the fact that Japan can only be a fully trusted member of the international community if it accepts the fact that it was defeated in World War II and doesn’t attempt to recast the past in a new, nationalistic light. His Yasukuni visit only served to underline to the world his revisionist outlook.
As for energy policy, Abe stated that as long as nuclear power plants do not meet the requirements by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, they will not be restarted. This is another way of saying that he will restart them once they pass the NRA’s examination. This stance not only runs counter to his Liberal Democratic Party’s campaign pledge in the December 2012 Lower House election that it will seek to build society not relying on nuclear power, but also undermines serious efforts to develop and widely use renewable green energy sources — the most enlightened path for a quake-prone, resource-poor nation like Japan.
Efforts must be made to stop Abe’s effort to drag the nation down a dangerous path in the fields of foreign policy and energy policy.