National / Politics

Abe administration starts work on collective security action

Kyodo

The Abe administration has embarked on work to enable the Self-Defense Forces to take part in collective security actions that potentially put troops in harm’s way, such as mine sweeping operations in the Middle East in the absence of a cease-fire, an official said.

The administration is likely to present a plan on how to prepare the necessary legal framework to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito later this month, the official said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

The move came after the administration judged that the SDF could participate in collective security actions if three conditions set for the exercise of the right to collective self-defense are met.

By changing the legal interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet in July lifted the country’s decades-old self-imposed ban on exercising the right to help allies under attack.

Despite the traditional stance that mine sweeping should be treated the same as the use of force, the administration views removing mines in the Middle East as justifiable to protect vital sea lanes that transport crude oil to Japan, as a serious supply disruption spawned by military conflict would wreak havoc on Japanese people’s livelihoods.

Japan would be allowed to use force if “the country’s existence is threatened, and there are clear dangers” that the people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is imperiled due to an armed attack on Japan or “countries with close ties.”

The other two conditions set forth in the Cabinet decision state there should be “no other appropriate means,” and the use of force should be kept to the minimum.

The administration expects the ruling parties to approve SDF participation in collective security actions as Komeito has given its nod to the use of force under the three conditions, the official said.

But things may not go smoothly as senior Komeito lawmakers have repeatedly expressed doubts about whether mine sweeping in the Middle East in the absence of a cease-fire would meet the three conditions.

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