Government panel to say Japan should lift ban on collective self-defense



A government panel will say that the Self-Defense Forces should be allowed to help allies that come under attack, in what would be a major reversal of Japan’s ban on collective self-defense under the pacifist Constitution.

The panel on Tuesday discussed ways national defense capability can be improved and said it will present its near-final draft recommendation in coming weeks.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants Japan to play a greater role in international peacekeeping and step up its defense posture, citing potential military threats from China and North Korea.

The 14-member panel, headed by former Ambassador to the U.S. Shunji Yanai, says the revision is possible if the government alters its current interpretation of the Constitution. Formal constitutional change involves high hurdles, though Abe eventually hopes to achieve that.

The Constitution, written under U.S. direction after World War II, says the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation” and that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” The government has interpreted those clauses as meaning that Japan can’t possess offensive military weapons such as ICBMs or long-range strategic bombers.

Abe and other supporters of the change believe that restrictions should be removed from the military, and that Japan’s current self-defense-only policy is inadequate as the region’s security environment becomes more challenging. They say there may be instances in which SDF personnel have to fight for allies during international peacekeeping missions, even when Japan is not attacked directly.

Japan’s peacekeeping missions have been limited to noncombat roles because of its pacifist rules, and a change would allow its troops to do more.

The draft report will also urge the government to relax restrictions on arms exports, participate more actively in U.N.-led security operations and prepare a legal framework for the SDF to counter intrusions on remote islands, including the Senkaku Islands claimed by China. It would stress the importance of strengthening defense ties with allies, most importantly the United States.

Government officials say the panel’s final report is expected in April.

  • Of course the Japanese govt should be able to lift the ban on self-defence. It would be perverse for a people not to be able to defend themselves, or the interests of their people, or participate in actions to defend other people under a cooperative agreement. But that is not the end of the issue. One does not deal with these issues in an intellectual vacuum. Irrespective of whether people are apprehensive about military ‘aggression’ or not, there needs to be a legitimate framework to question the values underlying any said action. This regime is lacking; and arbitrary govt policy rules the day. That is the issue; not the constitutional provisions for defence (or not).

  • Mark Garrett

    I’ll give you a hint. It’s often cited as the root of all evil.

  • Like you first logic; however for your 2nd point though; didn’t the US blocked Japan’s oil supply because of Japanese aggressions in Manchuria.

    • Chiisai (Paul) Sakanashima

      I would have to say that yes, the Japanese did infiltrate Manchuria but only because Japan was looking out for her best interests, nothing more. It isn’t certain as to just how much aggression Japan inflicted on the people of Manchuria, but answer me this, does the US have any right to block oil shipments to any country from any country? I think not! Up until WWII, the US was known for its isolationist status around the world, not wanting to delve in other people’s affairs which was fine. Even after WWII had started in Europe, it took 2 years and 3 months for the US to finally get involved and only after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. If Japan was in Manchuria minding their own business, why did the US even care? After all, the US was still an isolationist country…(or was it?) so the US decided to “get back” at Japan by blockading its oil shipments…I don’t get it!

      I think there is still alot of mystery that has yet to be explained to the public…mysteries that governments want to keep “hush” “hush”! I have my theories as to why our own government does what it does, (which makes for exciting debate) but much of which can be controversial and is beyond most people’s understanding. For instance: Did President Roosevelt know beforehand that Japan was going to bomb Pearl? Do we know who killed Kennedy and why? Think about it. These questions may never be fully explained or even answered.

      Arigatoo gozaimasu.

  • History is not a good determinant of the future. Its not necessarily a case of whether they should build-up their military, but whether they have a right to. Actually, I wasn’t saying the issue is ‘their motives’, but the perverse system which allows perverse motives to prevail. That goes for the US, Japan and China. They all function under systems of scant accountability. Sure, the Western system has more disclosure, but then disclosure in China would be a moot point in a non-free society, as freedom is a moot point when ‘letter of the law’ statutes allow vested interest to circumvent it.