Japan will try to persuade its allies to let it participate more in multilateral military drills in the Asia-Pacific region despite the limitations imposed on its forces by the Constitution, Defense Agency sources said Sunday.
They said agency officials will sound out other countries about its intentions on Tuesday, when defense policymakers from the region are scheduled to meet in Tokyo.
While Japan has been invited to some of the multilateral military drills, it was usually after the plans for them were already set.
To encourage its participation in such drills on a wider scale, Japan wants to participate and have a say in the initial stages of planning.
The government has said that, as a sovereign state, Japan has the right to collective self-defense, a provision that is guaranteed under the U.N. Charter, in which one country is entitled to defend another that is being attacked, even if the first is not being attacked itself.
On the other hand, the government also acknowledges that it cannot use that right under the Constitution.
Thus, Japan’s participation has been restricted to drills in which it provides humanitarian support or drills considered part of joint Japanese-U.S. exercises, such as the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multilateral exercises.
At the policymaking forum, agency officials plan to elaborate on Japan’s defense arrangements, including its stance on collective self-defense, so that Japanese forces can get more chances to practice in multilateral military exercises.
Similar efforts at generating understanding will also be made in bilateral contacts with the United States and other countries, they added.
The Defense Agency is hoping to be granted observer status in the initial stages of planning, the sources said. But greater involvement in such maneuvers could be viewed as a violation of the Constitution.
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