National / Politics

Energy shortage within conditions for collective self-defense: Abe


Japan could exercise the right to collective self-defense if an attack on a friendly country were to cause an energy shortage here, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in reference to two security bills his administration has submitted to the Diet.

Japan would exercise the right “in the event of occurrence of shortage of daily commodities and disruption of lifelines stemming from electricity shortage, cases that pose critical impacts on people’s lives,” Abe said Monday in a plenary session of the Upper House.

Abe was apparently referring to a possible dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces for minesweeping operations should the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East be closed, a vital sea lane for crude oil.

He made the comment when asked by an opposition lawmaker about one of three conditions that would allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of the United States or another friendly country under armed attack even if Japan itself is not attacked.

The condition involves when an armed attack against a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan occurs and as a result threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to fundamentally overturn people’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Two other conditions are when there is no other appropriate means available to repel the attack and ensure Japan’s survival and protect its people, and use of force must be limited to the minimum extent necessary.

Speaking during the Upper House session, the prime minister stressed use of force “will be limited to only when the three conditions are met.”

The conditions serve as a “clear and strict curb” in line with the war-renouncing Constitution on potential use of force for collective self-defense, he said.

Meanwhile, the Lower House on Tuesday decided to set up a special panel to deliberate the two bills. The special committee will get to work no earlier than May 26.

Abe has vowed to get the bills passed during the current Diet session. The session is scheduled to end June 24, but lawmakers and analysts expect it to be extended by a month or so.

However, it could be even longer as opposition parties are calling for sufficient time for Diet deliberations to ease public concerns about the legislation.

The bills would significantly expand the scope of overseas operations by the SDF, including exercising the right to collective self-defense amid an increasingly severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, with concerns over China’s muscle-flexing in the East and South China seas, as well as North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development.

One of the bills would create a permanent law allowing the SDF to provide logistic support for foreign militaries in international peacekeeping activities. The other comprises revisions to 10 current security-related laws.