The Abe administration aims to lift a long-standing ban on providing weapons and ammunition to foreign militaries, in a bid to expand the Self-Defense Forces’ logistical support capabilities, a government source said on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition may discuss the proposal as early as Friday, the source said.
Junior coalition partner Komeito is cautious about loosening constraints on the SDF, amid concern that providing arms to foreign militaries could run counter to Japan’s pacifist Constitution.
The postwar Constitution bans the use of force to settle international disputes, including assisting the use of force by foreign countries.
So far, the SDF’s support to foreign militaries has been limited to providing water, fuel, medicine and transportation.
As some countries in Europe and the United States use the same weapons and ammunition and jointly develop defense equipment, Tokyo apparently has come to believe its support list should include weapons and ammunition.
The Abe administration would like to be able to provide arms and ammunition to the United States — and possibly Australia — as long as the SDF is not integrated into the use of force by other militaries, the source said.
They would also like to make it possible to provide refueling and maintenance support to foreign aircraft bound for combat zones, the source said.
The Cabinet made a controversial decision last July to expand the scope of SDF operations, including enabling the right to collective self-defense.
The Cabinet decision stipulates that Japan should in theory be able to extend logistical support to other countries’ forces by dispatching SDF troops to areas “currently not at war,” however no legislation has yet been passed to that effect.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito are hoping to reach an agreement through on an outline of security legislation by the end of March. The government plans to submit more than 10 bills to the current regular Diet session to put the Cabinet decision into effect.
One focal point of the coalition talks is whether Japan needs a permanent law that would enable SDF troops to be dispatched overseas for logistical support purposes.
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