National

Ota says no way to 'collective self-defense'

Kyodo News

The leader of New Komeito expressed opposition Wednesday to Japan engaging in “collective self-defense,” a contentious topic a government panel plans to take up this month.

“We don’t oppose individual research on matters in the gray zone,” Hiroaki Ota said in a speech, referring to the Constitution’s Article 9, which renounces war as a means of settling international disputes. “However, we firmly uphold the first and second clauses of Article 9 and do not recognize the use of the right of ‘collective self-defense.’ “

Ota said he has made his position clear to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe has agreed with Ota that the panel will not discuss the constitutionality of the “gray area” with a view to recognizing the right to exercise “collective self-defense.” New Komeito is the junior partner of the Liberal Democratic Party in the ruling coalition.

Japan’s position is that Article 51 of the U.N. Charter gives the nation the right to participate collective “self-defense,” but Article 9 in the Constitution prohibits it from exercising that right.

New Komeito, backed by the major lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai, has generally taken moderate and pacifist positions.

Abe’s government set up the panel last month to recommend whether the country should interpret the Constitution differently. It is believed many of its members favor a change.

Article 9 says the state renounces war and the use of force as a means of settling international disputes and stipulates that land, sea and air forces will never be maintained, even though all three military branches are, in the name of the Self-Defense Forces.

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