As the Diet kicked off an ordinary session on Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his policy speech that he will tackle the issue of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense on the basis of a report to be issued by a panel of experts, which is a private advisory body for him. For the first time in his current tenure, he mentioned the issue in a Diet speech. Although he did not use a direct expression, his intention is clear: to change the government's long-standing constitutional interpretation that under the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, Japan cannot exercise the right to collective self-defense.
If the Abe government achieves its goal, it will pave the way for Japan to engage in military operations abroad with other countries, especially the United States. Such a change would completely alter postwar Japan's basic posture of "defense-only defense," which is designed to ensure it will not repeat the mistake of walking the path to war as it did in the last century — with tragic results for both the region and Japan. The "defense-only defense" posture helped Japan regain the international community's trust in the postwar period.
Japan's embracing of the right to collective self-defense would cause friction with neighboring countries and destabilize the regional security environment. It is deplorable that Abe is trying to discard this stance, which has allowed the nation to prosper, on the strength of a report of a private advisory body. The Diet should stop Abe's effort, which is tantamount to revising the Constitution without following the standard procedure for doing so.