Amendment ‘needed’ for shift on self-defense


It would be hard for the government to reinterpret the Constitution in order to drop its ban on collective self-defense without amending the war-renouncing charter, a new Supreme Court justice has said.

“As far as the law remains unchanged, revising its interpretation (to exercise the right of collective self-defense) would be very difficult,” Tsuneyuki Yamamoto told a press conference Tuesday. “A constitutional amendment may be appropriate.”

Yamamoto, who assumed the top court post Tuesday, was replaced as head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau earlier this month by Ichiro Komatsu, a former diplomat who like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been positive about changing the interpretation to allow for collective self-defense.

The Cabinet Legislation Bureau as well as successive governments have maintained that Japan cannot exercise the right to collective self-defense because doing so would exceed the minimum necessary to defend itself, as permitted under the pacifist Constitution.

Yamamoto said, “The Constitution allows Japan to possess the minimum necessary forces to defend itself from foreign attack.”