Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday that although he would prefer to revise the Constitution in order to clarify Japan’s right to collective defense, another option would be to pass a Diet resolution allowing Tokyo to exercise this right.
“A revision to the Constitution would be ideal,” Koizumi told a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.
But the proposal to issue a Diet resolution instead “is one option,” he said.
Koizumi has expressed willingness to review Japan’s self-imposed ban on the right to help its allies under foreign attack. He has often remarked that, should Japan adhere to its current position, it would not be able to take action even if U.S. forces were attacked while carrying out joint training exercises with the Self-Defense Forces near Japan.
“It is important to study what we can do within the limits of the Constitution,” the prime minister said.
Previous Japanese governments have said that although the country has the right to partake in collective defense under international law, its war-renouncing Constitution does not allow it to exercise this right.
During the same Diet session, Koizumi welcomed the plan of U.S. President George W. Bush to unilaterally reduce stockpiles of U.S. nuclear missiles.
“We welcome President Bush’s call for a further cut in the number of nuclear weapons,” Koizumi said in reference to comments on global security made by Bush earlier this month.
The prime minister also reiterated Japan’s “understanding” toward a U.S. plan to develop a national missile defense system. He said that Tokyo shares Washington’s belief that the proliferation of ballistic missiles poses a serious threat to world security.
“We hope the issue will be dealt with in a way that will improve the international security environment,” Koizumi said. “We welcome the U.S. position to seek consultation over the issue with related countries, including Russia and China.”
The plan, which is aimed at shielding the United States from ballistic missile attacks, has provoked skepticism among U.S. allies in Europe, opposition in Russia and hostility in China.
Although Japan has been supportive of the plan, it has not given the measure its explicit backing.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who is engaged in a battle with bureaucrats within her ministry, repeated the fact that she has not received policy documents from diplomats concerning the U.S. missile defense system.
Tanaka’s remark was issued in response to a question by an opposition lawmaker seeking clarification of Japan’s position on the matter.
“I asked (for the documents) yesterday and the day before yesterday, but have not received them,” Tanaka said.
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