The Abe government plans to make Diet approval mandatory as part of a proposed “permanent law” that would allow Japanese troops to extend logistic support to foreign militaries abroad, according to a government source.
The move is aimed at dispelling concern that civilian control could be compromised if constitutional restraints are loosened on Japan’s military.
It also represents a bid to secure the support of the Liberal Democratic Party’s junior ruling coalition partner, Komeito, which remains wary of giving the SDF an expanded scope of operations overseas, the source said Thursday.
The envisaged law would allow the SDF to be deployed abroad to provide logistic support to foreign militaries “when needed.” Currently, the government crafts special laws and obtains Diet approval for each and every SDF dispatch abroad. By making a “permanent law,” military deployments would no longer need to be evaluated on a case-by-base basis.
The government will likely present the plan as early as Feb. 13, when senior LDP and Komeito lawmakers are expected to start coalition talks on security legislation, the source said.
When the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a landmark decision to reinterpret war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution last July, it did not clarify whether Diet approval would be mandatory when sending SDF troops overseas to provide logistic support.
The Cabinet would like to extend such support to foreign military forces by dispatching the SDF to areas “currently not at war,” although legislative work has yet to be completed toward that end.
At a House of Councilors Budget Committee session on Thursday, Abe said it is “customary practice” to seek Diet approval for SDF dispatches.
“We would like to consider (stating that Diet approval is necessary) in our upcoming legislation,” Abe said.
But he didn’t say whether approval for SDF deployments could be given retroactively.
The legislation is part of a series of bills the government hopes to submit to the Diet before it closes for business on June 24.
The LDP aims to push through a series of related legislation in the session, including legalizing Japan’s future use of the right to collective self-defense, or defending allies under armed attack.
A Komeito lawmaker said the envisioned law “would enable the SDF to be mobilized overseas more easily than before.”
However, some within the party argue Japan should stick to developing special rather than permanent laws, so the Diet can carefully debate each overseas SDF deployment.
The government source argues that: “If we seek parliamentary approval before sending troops, the Diet can impose the same checks as enacting special laws.”
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