(Mainichi: April 15, 2015 – p. 5)
Deliberations have resumed between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the junior coalition partner the Komeito party on drafting new security legislation. The government and the LDP reportedly want to finalize the outline of the security legislation by April 27, the day the revision of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation is scheduled to be completed, so that the outline can be reflected in the guidelines. We wonder whether it makes sense to it proceed with the deliberations by placing priority on the agreement with the U.S. over the submission of the bills to the Diet.
The new security legislation includes significant changes, including enabling Japan to exercise the right to exercise collective self-defense, which could change Japan’s basic security policy. One of the characteristics of these changes is that they will allow the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to conduct joint activities with the U.S. military around the world.
U.S. Defense Secretary Carter, who recently visited Japan, said the new guidelines reflecting Japan’s new security legislation will “increase opportunities for the SDF to seamlessly cooperate with the U.S. military, enabling the SDF to respond to broad challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide.”
With this remark, the secretary expressed his expectation that the SDF will support the U.S. military worldwide based on the premise that the drafting of the security legislation has already been completed.
However, to what extent has the government obtained the Japanese people’s understanding for the SDF conducting joint activities with the U.S. military around the world?
In the revision of the Law Concerning Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Situations in Areas near Japan, Japan’s logistic support to the U.S. military, which has been limited to areas surrounding Japan within the scope of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, could be expanded to cover the entire world if a situation is judged as “having a serious impact” on Japan’s peace and security. Such a situation would allow the SDF to support other foreign militaries in addition to the U.S. military. If the government recognizes a situation as having a serious impact on Japan, the SDF would be able to start providing logistic support to foreign militaries in the South China Sea or other areas.
We are concerned that such important changes will be agreed with the U.S. without Diet deliberation on the bills and become a fait accompli.
However, the government and the ruling parties show no sign of slowing down the deliberations, and are already putting the finishing touches on the security legislation. How to impose restrictions on the legislation is the focus of the discussions for the time being.
In the discussion conducted on April 14, the Komeito insisted on prior approval by the Diet without exception as the condition for dispatching the SDF under a new permanent law entitled called the International Peace Support Law, which will enable the SDF to provide logistical support. However, the government and LDP maintained their stance that retroactive approval should be allowed in emergency situations such as when the Diet is adjourned or during national elections.
It goes without saying that such restrictions need to be addressed, but shouldn’t the parties be digging deeper and engaging in more fundamental discussions? After all, the new security legislation has so many points that need to be deliberated on over a period of several years. Even some Diet members have voiced their discontent about the complexity of the security legislation, so it must be even more so for the general public. The LDP and the Komeito party should engage in thorough deliberations without imposing deadlines.