集団的自衛権 安全保障法制を総点検したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 10, 2013)
Legal basis for national security must be thoroughly reviewed
集団的自衛権 安全保障法制を総点検したい(2月9日付・読売社説)

When formulating national security policy, it is vital to first think about what should be done, not just what can be done under the current Constitution and laws.

A government advisory panel discussing reconstruction of the legal basis for national security has submitted a report to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has proposed allowing the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

The panel, which was set up by the first Abe administration, compiled the report in June 2008 after Abe left office, and specifics were never worked out. This is a second opportunity for Abe to take up the issue.

The report is significant in terms of ensuring Japan's security. We want Abe to use it to pave the way for comprehensive legal arrangements.

The report calls for Japan's exercise of the right to collective self-defense, enabling the nation to counterattack if, for example, U.S. Navy vessels are attacked during joint military drills or if ballistic missiles are fired at the Untied States.

For international peacekeeping operations, the report proposes that the Self-Defense Forces be allowed to use force to defend other countries' troops who come under attack nearby.

It also seeks a review of the government's current interpretation that logistical support for other countries' militaries constitutes a breach of the Constitution, as such an act is regarded as an integrated part of the use of force by the countries that receive the support.


Govt's interpretation bizarre

If Japan refrains from protecting U.S. Navy vessels and intercepting missiles launched against the United States based on the bizarre constitutional interpretation that Japan has the right to collective self-defense but is not allowed to exercise it, the Japan-U.S. alliance will collapse.

The current situation, in which only SDF members are excessively bound by legal restrictions during international peacekeeping missions, should be improved swiftly.

The report also calls for actions such as Cabinet approval of a basic security policy and measures to avoid abuse of the right to collective self-defense, including establishing related laws. The content of the report appears good enough to obtain understanding both at home and abroad.

Of course, it is no easy task to establish related laws under the divided Diet, in which the ruling camp controls the House of Representatives while opposition parties hold a majority in the House of Councillors. Even New Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's junior coalition partner, and the Cabinet Legislation Bureau are cautious about a review of the current constitutional interpretation.

It is inevitable that specifics of the report will be worked out after this summer's upper house election. However, it is important for the government and ruling parties to discuss the issue thoroughly in advance.


Narrow legal gap

Meanwhile, Abe has asked the advisory panel to look into security issues that could require legal arrangements, with the exception of four cases already examined by the panel. We view this as an appropriate call to respond to Japan's deteriorated security environment, nearly five years after the report was compiled.

Near the Senkaku Islands, the Chinese military has continued provocative acts. It is a high priority for the government to task the SDF with a new territorial defense mission and address such issues as the use of force to narrow the legal gap between the right to policing an area and the right to self-defense.

We also urge the government to consider expanding those protected by Japan's collective self-defense to include not only U.S. military vessels nearby but also those operating in distant waters and U.S. military aircraft.

We call on the government to comprehensively examine security issues with the aim of establishing permanent laws, including a fundamental law on national security and others concerning the overseas dispatch of SDF personnel.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 9, 2013)
(2013年2月9日01時40分  読売新聞)

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