The Upper House is expected to enact laws that could allow Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the changes are needed to address new challenges, including China’s growing military assertiveness. Critics say the laws violate the pacifist Constitution and could entangle Japan in U.S.-led conflicts.
Below are key points of the legislation, which consists of one new law and revisions to 10 existing laws.
‘Limited’ collective self-defense
This allows Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense by deploying military forces to respond to an attack against a friendly foreign country under three conditions: the attack results in a threat to Japan’s survival, no other appropriate means are available, and use of force is limited to the minimum necessary.
As examples, Abe has cited defending a U.S. ship attacked while transporting Japanese citizens evacuating a conflict zone, or protecting a U.S. destroyer conducting surveillance for potential missile attacks on Japan.
Abe has said, as a general principle, troops will not be sent to fight in foreign territory or waters but that an exception could be made for mine-sweeping in the Strait of Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf, if maritime commerce is blocked. Abe has also said Japan will not send troops to fight in multinational conflicts such as the 2003 war in Iraq
International peace support law
A new, permanent law will allow the military, with prior Diet approval, to provide logistic support to armed forces of other countries seeking collectively to secure international peace, if a U.N. resolution has been adopted. Activities will be limited to areas where conflict is not underway.
This removes the need for a new, specific law for each operation as when Japan provided refueling support for U.S.-led operations in the Indian Ocean during the Afghan war.
Allows Japan to provide logistic support to the United States and other countries engaged in operations in situations with “important influence” on Japan’s security. This expands the current scope and clarifies that there are no geographical constraints.
It also expands the scope for providing services and supplies, including ammunition, to U.S. and other militaries.
The government has cited the example of logistical support in contingencies on the Korean Peninsula.
Abe has ruled out providing logistics support for U.S.-led operations against the Islamic State in the Mideast.
In addition to U.N. peacekeeping operations, it will allow Japan’s military to take part in multilateral peace and security operations outside the U.N. framework.
It allows Japanese forces to protect civilians or troops of other countries participating in peacekeeping duties, and it relaxes rules on use of weapons during peacekeeping operations.
It allows Japan’s military to protect weapons and other equipment of U.S. and other countries’ armed forces when they are engaged in operations that contribute to Japan’s defense.