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Editorial: Japan’s exclusively defense-oriented policy might lose effectiveness

  • 2015-04-28 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: April 28, 2015 – p. 5)


 There is a strong possibility that the latest revision of the Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation Guidelines and new security law will enable the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to use force in overseas missions. Japan’s postwar “exclusively defense-oriented policy” will be completely overturned as a result.


 At the “two-plus-two” meeting of foreign affairs and defense ministers in New York, the updating of the Guidelines stipulating the role sharing of the SDF and U.S. military was high on the agenda.


 The Guidelines formulated in 1978 in preparation for armed attacks on Japan were revised in 1997 with an eye to emergency contingencies in areas surrounding Japan, including the Korean Peninsula. The Guidelines were updated for the first time in 18 years.


 Unlike treaties that require Diet approval, the Guidelines do not require legislative and budgetary measures. However, they represent the official position of the two countries. In the past, Japan has created new laws in line with the Guidelines.


 Based on its commitment to the United States, the Japanese government will make legal adjustments.


 In tandem with the Japan-U.S talks on updating the Guidelines, the Japanese government has pushed ahead with the work of drafting security legislation. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner the Komeito party reached a substantive agreement on the legislation yesterday. Reportedly, the government will adopt it at a cabinet meeting on May 14 and submit it to the Diet. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started working on updating the guidelines and making legal adjustments right after taking office. The guidelines and security legislations are inseparable parts of the fundamental review of Japan’s defense policy.


 With an eye on China’s military rise, the Abe administration hopes to expand significantly the SDF’s military role and broaden the areas where it conducts activities to a global scale.


 The updated Guidelines stipulate that Japan and the U.S. will conduct activities in line with their own constitutions and laws. The new Guidelines also state that Japan will take action and carry out activities in accordance with its basic policies such as the exclusively defense-oriented principle and the three nonnuclear principles.


 According to the government’s replies, the exclusively defense-oriented policy means that Japan will defend its national territory, territorial waters, and airspace, and that Japan will not use force unless it comes under attack.


 This is a restrained security policy in line with Japan’s pacifist Constitution and it is based upon deep remorse for the war.


 However, the new Guidelines include items that deviate from Japan’s exclusively defense-oriented policy.


 There is concern about logistic support for foreign militaries that is stipulated in the new Guidelines.


 If the Japanese government recognizes a situation as having a serious impact on the peace and security of Japan, the scope of the SDF’s operations will be expanded. This deviates not only from the pacifist Constitution but also from the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.


 Despite the fact that the contents of the security legislation are voluminous, complicated, and wide-ranging, the government reportedly plans to simultaneously submit 11 bills revising the existing laws. LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura clearly stated that the legislation will be enacted by early August. This is an unacceptable approach.


 Japan needs to carefully consider these changes that run counter to Japan’s security policy of never using force overseas since World War II. We cannot readily condone the new security policy. We should be aware that our country has now reached a critical stage. (Abridged)

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