National / Politics

Legislation eyed to let SDF help non-U.S. forces in global conflicts

Kyodo

Japan plans to enact a law authorizing the Self-Defense Forces to help military allies other than the United States during international conflicts, an outline of the legislation shows.

The sought-after law, which would be designed for permanent use to dispense with the need to draft temporary laws on a mission-by-mission basis, would replace the currently vague law governing contingencies “in areas surrounding Japan.” The current law is designed to deal with an emergency on the Korean Peninsula and assumes the extension of Japanese assistance to U.S. forces.

The proposed replacement, which would be able to be applied to any international conflict, would allow the SDF to help Australian forces, for example, in the event of a military emergency on the Korean Peninsula.

Last July, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved a decision to alter the government’s interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution in a way that allows Japan to legally engage in collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of an ally under armed attack. The move is part of push to give the SDF a bigger role overseas.

However, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party may face difficulty finding support for the proposed law from pacifist Komeito, its junior coalition partner. Komeito is wary of allowing Japan’s military to play a greater security role overseas.

One of the focuses of debate will likely be how to control the dispatch of SDF troops abroad, such as by insisting on the need for advance Diet approval, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

The government also plans to define specific situations in which Japan can exercise its U.N. right to collective self-defense by revising certain laws, the outline said.

One thing the government plans to do is to make swift dispatch of the SDF possible by a simple Cabinet decision to prepare for so-called gray zone incidents that fall short of full-fledged military attacks on Japan.

But legislative authorization is expected to be made possible by revising two existing laws, including the SDF law, the outline says.