(Nikkei: June 30, 2015 – p. 4)
Director General Yusuke Yokobatake of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau indicated at the House of Representatives special committee on the peace and security-related bills on June 29 that in a contingency on the Korean peninsula, it is possible for the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to protect U.S. ships based on the right to individual self-defense. He said that if U.S. vessels deployed in international waters to defend Japan are attacked, “this can be dealt with by invoking the right to individual self-defense if the attack is recognized as an armed attack on Japan.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe often cites the protection of U.S. ships as a typical example of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani has said that the basis on which to determine whether the right to individual or collective self-defense should be invoked is “very ambiguous.”
Yokobatake also mentioned that even if U.S. ships transporting Japanese nationals are attacked en route, the SDF may not be able to protect them based on the collective defense right. He stated: “A case of U.S. transport vessels carrying Japanese on board being attacked alone cannot be deemed to meet the three new conditions for the use of force (such as Japan’s survival being threatened).”
This was in response to questions from the Democratic Party of Japan’s Akihisa Nagashima and Yuichi Goto.