A group of noted security experts urged Japan on Monday to stick to its “defense-only” policy ahead of what is likely to be heated debate in the Diet over the Abe administration’s security bills to expand the overseas role of the Self-Defense Forces and beef up cooperation with the U.S.

In the eight-page statement issued by the Jieitai o Ikasu Kai (Group for Utilizing the SDF), headed by former Defense Ministry official Kyoji Yanagisawa, who was also an assistant chief Cabinet secretary, the experts insist that Japan should maintain the SDF’s established “noncombat brand” and take a different approach than the U.S. in contributing to world peace.

The SDF should use force only when defending Japan from foreign invasion, and then only when such a situation cannot be resolved by diplomatic efforts, the statement says.

Instead, the statement says, what Japan should do now is focus on measures that can prevent conflicts before they flare up. These include crisis management measures, surveillance activities and the development of a more trusting relationship between the SDF and foreign militaries.

“Those efforts are the trend in today’s world,” it states. “A defense-only policy is the best match” for the Japan of today.

Even if such efforts fail to gain the understanding of other countries, clearly displaying this stance to the world would create a future where Japan and its neighbors could establish a common understanding of not waging war, the document says, likely alluding to China in particular.

As for contributing to international peace, the statement calls on Japan to make full use of its long-established noncombatant brand, and seek ways to eradicate the cause of conflict without using force, such as by offering humanitarian aid and cease-fire monitoring to support the United Nations.

Beefing up logistic support for the U.S. military’s anti-terrorism campaigns will merely result in the repeating of past failures and create a vicious cycle of more acts of terrorism, the group says.

The group was launched by three security experts last June, just before the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reinterpreted the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to expand the SDF’s overseas activities.

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