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Editorial: Debate security legislation using specific examples

  • 2015-05-14 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: May 14, 2015 – p. 2)


 A set of bills are to be submitted to the Diet will mark a milestone in Japan’s postwar security policy. A policy can’t be sustained if it is not backed by the public, even though the policy might be well intentioned. Thorough Diet discussions are needed so the public can deepen their understanding.


 Bills to be submitted to the Diet will come to 11. These are aimed at meeting three objectives. First is to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense when Japan’s existence is apparently threatened.


 Second is to allow the Self-Defense Forces to extend logistical support to foreign militaries including the U.S. beyond geographical restrictions when a crisis that may have a grave impact on Japan occurs overseas. A bill concerning situations that have a grave impact on Japan is designed to serve this purpose.


 Third is to pave the way for establishing legislation that allows the SDF to aid multinational forces with logistical support as part of efforts to make international contributions even when Japan is not immediately affected. A bill to support international peace activities falls into this category.


 With China building up its military might and the proliferation of weapons becoming serious, the security environment surrounding Japan is growing tenser. The U.S. can no longer afford to act as the world’s policeman, which makes it more urgent for Japan to maintain stability at home and in the region in cooperation with the U.S. and other countries. That is why the new bills will be presented. There is no argument about that.


 The question is that the security bills fail to present a clear picture as to when, what and to what extent the SDF can provide support. An opinion poll shows that less than half of those surveyed responded they will not support the enactment of the bills during the current Diet session. Many displayed opposition out of fear that the legislation may broaden the scope of SDF operations overseas without limits.


 In particular, detailed explanations are needed as to the application of the exercise of collective self-defense and the bill concerning situations that have a grave impact on Japan. They unexceptionally allow the Diet to give consent after action is taken to ensure a prompt response to a crisis. The government must set stricter standards to make decisions.


 Tensions are also rising in the South China Sea, as well as on the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East. The government should, for example, present specific examples and cases in which Japan could exercise the right to collective self-defense or apply the law governing situations that have a grave impact.


 The opposition parties should also acknowledge their responsibility to deepen Diet discussions. They should not merely oppose the bills but present better alternatives. The government and the ruling parties should also look into the possibility of making changes to the bills, depending on the course of the Diet debate.


 Media should make every effort to explain these complicated bills to help facilitate public understanding.

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