Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he will no longer use the term “our military” in reference to the Self-Defense Forces.
Responding to a question by an opposition party lawmaker at the Lower House Budget Committee, Abe said: “I still think it is no problem (to refer to the SDF as the military). But I will not use such a word if the precious time of the Budget Committee is going to be spent on such exchanges” during questions and answers.
In a March 20 session of the Upper House Budget Committee, Abe said joint drills between the SDF and foreign forces “have been producing significant results in raising the transparency of our military.”
In subsequent comments, Abe referred to it as the SDF.
He reiterated Monday that he used the term to compare the SDF to foreign forces with which it carried out joint exercises.
Opposition parties have criticized Abe’s reference to the SDF as a military.
“There is no way to explain (Abe’s reference to the SDF) when the Constitution says Japan will not maintain military forces,” Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Yukio Edano said last week.
Article 9 of the Constitution, which was drafted by the United States during the Occupation, says the Japanese people “forever renounce war” and that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”
Due to the Constitution, the government has maintained the view that the SDF is a “necessary minimum” for defending Japan and that it is not a military — despite its might as one of the world’s best-equipped contemporary armed forces and the size of the defense budget.