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Ruling parties reach basic agreement on Diet approval for SDF overseas missions

  • 2015-04-17 15:00:00
  • , Mainichi
  • Translation

(Mainichi: April 17, 2015 – p. 1)


 By Yusuke Kaite


 The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito reached basic agreement on April 16 on their main sticking point with regard to Diet approval of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) overseas missions under the proposed “international peace support law” (a permanent law). The government will now step up efforts to draft the actual provisions and the two parties plan to reach final agreement by the end of this month.


 The proposed “international peace support law” governs the dispatch of the SDF for refueling, transport of goods, and other logistic support operations for foreign forces responding to international conflicts. Komeito, which favors strict controls in terms of Diet involvement, has been demanding “prior approval with no exception.” Coordination with the LDP, which argues that ex post facto approval should also be allowed, had run into difficulties.


 As a result of discussions, Komeito has now agreed to accept ex post facto approval only in emergencies, as an exception. Furthermore, a provision under the current UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) cooperation law requiring the government to make efforts to obtain such approval within seven days after the start of operations will also be included in the law. The two parties also agreed to set up a mechanism for speedy Diet approval. They are also considering including this provision in other laws.


 The government presented proposals to the LDP and Komeito on April 16 stating that the SDF will only be dispatched under the international peace support law under two conditions: (1) logistic support will only be provided to foreign forces operating with the mandate of a UN resolution or a related UN resolution; and (2) such missions will require prior Diet approval, in principle. Only when these conditions are met will a situation be defined as a “situation requiring joint response for international peace.”


 The government also suggested including the clause “when there is no other appropriate means available to repel the attack and ensure Japan’s survival and protect its people” – one of the three new conditions for the exercise of the right to collective self-defense under the cabinet decision of July 2014 – in the revised Armed Attack Contingency Law. There was no objection to this from the LDP and Komeito. This is a step that was taken in consideration of Komeito’s desire not to lower the hurdle for future overseas missions by writing the cabinet decision’s provision into law.


 With regard to the revision of the law on contingencies in Japan’s periphery, the new concept of “situations having a serious impact on security” will be incorporated to enable the SDF to engage in logistic support to foreign forces assisting the U.S. forces for the effective implementation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. While support for foreign forces will now be authorized, consideration is being given to Komeito’s desire to limit the scope of operations to the “Far East” as stipulated under the Security Treaty. (Slightly abridged)

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