It has surfaced that the Cabinet Legislation Bureau did not keep any records of internal discussions leading up to the Abe administration's reinterpretation of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution last year in the form of public documents. This will make it almost impossible to examine the process of the constitutional reinterpretation, which paved the way for a major change in Japan's postwar security posture by lifting a self-imposed long-standing ban on collective self-defense — a step that allows the Self-Defense Forces to fight overseas to protect an ally under attack even if Japan is not attacked. Since the bureau is tasked with giving its opinions on legal issues regarding constitutional interpretation and government policies as well as ensuring that government bills conform to the Constitution, its omission undermines the nation's democratic process. As such it can't be condoned.

The bureau has kept only three kinds of materials on the issue as public documents, which the public can view under the official information disclosure system — materials related to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's private advisory body of security experts, which in May last year issued a report saying that Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense under Article 9, the consultations between the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito, and a draft of the July 1, 2014, Cabinet decision that reversed the government position on collective self-defense. It is reported that on June 30 last year, the National Security Bureau, the secretariat of the National Security Council, sent the draft to the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and that on July 1, an official of the legislation bureau telephoned the security bureau to say that the legislation bureau had no opinions on the matter.

If true, it is incredible that the legislation bureau would opt to reply over the phone on such an important matter instead of expressing its view in writing. The reported episode raises the suspicion that the bureau either did not fully examine the Cabinet's reinterpretation or just accepted it. The reported behavior by the legislation bureau is appallingly nonchalant given that the decision could lead to Japanese troops fighting overseas for the first time since World War II.