Roughly 60 percent of the 107 municipal assemblies nationwide that have approved or adopted nonbinding statements regarding the revised Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines and related bills have called for amendments or abolition, according to results of a survey released Thursday.
The 107 assemblies span 21 of the nation’s 47 prefectures, and those expressing opposition said in their statements that it is unconstitutional to make it obligatory for local governments to cooperate with the central government when implementing the guidelines and related bills, which have already been submitted to the current Diet session.
These assemblies also noted that such local-level cooperation would greatly affect citizens’ daily lives, according to the survey conducted by Kyodo News.
Even among the local legislatures that did not voice clear opposition to the guidelines, many said they were concerned about the situation and called for cautious Diet debate, the survey results show.
The Liberal Democratic Party has issued instructions in writing to its prefectural chapters to make efforts to block the adoption of statements and other resolutions which are unsupportive of the guidelines or the bills.
However, if the number of local assemblies that adopt such statements continues to rise nationwide, it could affect Diet deliberations on the bills, which are to begin in earnest next week, some observers said.
Nagano Prefecture had the largest number of local assemblies — 23 — that passed statements and resolutions regarding the guidelines, followed by Akita Prefecture with 14, Tokyo with 10 and Tokushima and Hiroshima prefectures with eight each.
The survey results indicated that local municipalities currently affected by U.S. military low-altitude flying practice or which have declared themselves nonnuclear cities were more prone to snub the new defense cooperation guidelines.
On Wednesday, the Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly became the first legislative body on the prefectural level to adopt a nonbinding statement opposing the guidelines, saying they have a profound effect on the lives of local residents and economic activity, and that it could not accept the one-sided way in which the central government pushed specific roles onto the laps of local governments.
The city assembly of Musashimurayama in Tokyo said in a statement that the revised guidelines “are an attempt to drag the entire nation into wars and military interference by the U.S. forces stationed in Japan, and step on the pacifist principles of the Constitution.”