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LDP and Komeito to discuss security next month

  • 2015-01-15 15:00:00
  • , Mainichi
  • Translation
  • ,

(Mainichi: January 15, 2015 – p. 5)

 

 The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Komeito party have agreed to restart “the ruling parties’ council on security legislation,” chaired by LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura, in February. Although there were voices calling for postponing the discussions because they could affect deliberations on the budget bill and the unified local elections, the ruling parties have apparently decided that restarting the official discussions earlier will be beneficial for obtaining support from the public and within the ruling parties.

 

 The ruling parties were originally supposed to reach an agreement through behind-the-scenes talks between Komura and Komeito Vice President Kazuo Kitagawa, who are in charge of talks on security legislation, before the convocation of the ordinary Diet session this month on the general outline of security legislation based on the cabinet decision made last July that will allow Japan to exercise the right to exercise collective self-defense.

 

 However, coordination between the ruling parties has run into difficulties because the differences between the two parties are bigger than expected. In addition, there was concern that the deliberation on the security legislation would affect the already delayed budgetary deliberations due to the last Lower House election, and there was a view within the LDP that “the security issue should not take over all of national politics before the unified local election.” Under the circumstances, a tug-of-war between the ruling parties has been underway over whether the official discussions should be restarted before the unified local election or postponed.

 

 The reason the ruling parties decided to restart the discussions on security legislation in February is that the Komeito is hoping to secure enough time for discussion within the party before the cabinet decides on related laws. This aligned with the government’s intention to obtain support from the U.S. by showing a clear direction for the security legislation by the Japan-U.S. summit for which arrangements are currently underway to schedule for the Golden Week holidays. An LDP official explained, “Even if the ruling parties proceed with discussions behind the scenes, once the Diet session begins, opposition parties will question the security legislation. It will be better to make the discussions official in order to obtain the public support.”

 

 The ruling parties’ discussions will focus primarily on the scope of expansion of the SDF’s activities.

 

 The cabinet decision authorizes the SDF to carry out an armed attack against another country in exercising collective self-defense when three conditions are met, including cases in which “Japan’s existence is threatened and there is clear danger that people’s rights may be overturned fundamentally.” However, the Komeito Party does not view the SDF’s minesweeping in the Persian Gulf before reaching an armistice agreement as meeting the three conditions, so this could become a point of contention again.

 

 Also, the government is planning to establish a permanent law that will enable the SDF to be swiftly deployed overseas rather than enacting a special measures law in each case. By scrapping the current Law Concerning Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Situations in Areas near Japan, the planned new law will include the same contents as the current law with the addition of new missions such as logistics support and humanitarian aid. Nonetheless, the Komeito is against abolishing the current law because it serves as a de facto geographical limitation.

 

 Upcoming Events Related to Japan-U.S. Alliance

February

Resumption of ruling parties’ discussions on security legislation

April

Unified local elections

Around springtime?

Revision of Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation Guidelines

End of April?

Cabinet decision on security legislation

Golden Week holidays

PM Abe to visit the U.S.?

May

Full-scale deliberations on security-related bills in the Diet

Aug. 15

70th anniversary of World War II

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