Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi has proposed allowing the Self-Defense Forces to join multinational forces when they are part of U.N.-sanctioned international activities working for peace.
Kawaguchi’s proposal is contained in an article to be published Wednesday in the monthly opinion magazine Ronza, according to a copy of the article made available to Kyodo News on Tuesday. The magazine is published by the Asahi Shimbun.
“There are expectations for multinational forces established based on U.N. resolutions to play an increasingly wide-ranging role with changes in the security environment of the international community, and their importance has increased,” she said. “But under the current PKO (peacekeeping operations) Law, our country cannot take part in such activities.”
The law sets preconditions for the dispatch of SDF personnel on U.N. peacekeeping operations that include the existence of a ceasefire accord between warring parties and the consent of the country to which the forces would be sent.
The law has enabled the SDF to take part in overseas peacekeeping operations in Cambodia and East Timor.
“Depending on the duties (required), I do not think our Constitution bans participation of the SDF or cooperation with multinational forces that are established in line with the United Nations,” Kawaguchi said in the article.
She told a regular news conference Tuesday that the views she expressed were her own.
“I raised some issues regarding how Japan can cope with the various problems of the international community, and I hope they will be thoroughly discussed,” she said.
The remarks in the article were widely seen as reflecting Kawaguchi’s goal of better defining Japan’s role in the reconstruction of Iraq after an expected U.S.-led military campaign.
The proposal is expected to stir debate over the Constitution, whose Article 9 says: “The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Tuesday that Kawaguchi’s views in the article do not represent the official government position.
“I do not know the full contents of the contributed article. But it is just minister Kawaguchi’s personal view,” Fukuda told a regular news conference.
On how Japan should deal with international terrorism, Kawaguchi said in the article, “There is the issue of asking citizens to accept a certain amount of inconvenience in order to strictly curtail terrorist organizations.
“For example, they include restrictions toward freedom of association, such as banning participation in terrorist associations, a certain level of restrictions on economic activities and rights to assets due to strict measures on terrorist funds, and stricter inspections of baggage on public transport,” she said.
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