The Diet on Friday approved a revised Japan-U.S. agreement that gives the Self-Defense Forces more leeway in providing ammunition and other supplies to the U.S. military.
The agreement, aimed at boosting logistic cooperation between Japanese and U.S. forces, is in line with changes brought about by the divisive security laws enacted early last year. The laws side-stepped constraints imposed by pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution, which prohibits Japan from waging war, and authorized the use of collective self-defense.
The move to amend the bilateral Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government seeks to bolster Japan’s security alliances, reviewing new legislation to counter North Korea’s continued provocations and other security threats. But public concerns have surfaced that the changes undermined Japan’s postwar pacifist policy stance.
Before the revision, SDF had already been able to supply the U.S. military with food and oil, as well as transportation and other services during bilateral exercises, international relief operations and emergency situations. Supplying ammunition had been permitting only in cases of direct attack upon Japan or if such a situation would be anticipated.
The approved changes now enable SDF personnel to provide ammunition and other supplies if the risk to Japan, even outside a direct attack, reaches a “survival-threatening situation” as a result of an attack upon an ally.
Curbs have also been loosened on all locations where Japan may engage in logistic support activities, which critics have said raises the risk of SDF members becoming dragged into foreign conflict.
As Article 9 bans the “use of force” to settle international disputes, the government limits the area of the SDF’s activities to make sure they will not be considered an “integral part” of military operations conducted by other countries.
Under the new laws, SDF troops can engage in the activities as long as they do not occur on an actual combat site overseen by the armed forces of a foreign country to which Japan provides support.
The Diet also endorsed a revised bilateral logistics pact with Australia and a new logistic agreement with Britain, which also reflects the content of Japan’s security legislation.
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