(Yomiuri: July 1, 2015 – p.4)
The criteria to identify a situation as threatening Japan’s existence are coming into focus in the deliberation on the security legislation at the lower house’s Peace and Security Legislation Special Committee. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is putting effort into giving concrete explanations, bearing in mind a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, but opposition parties criticize his explanations as “ambiguous criteria,” urging further clarification.
In the special committee’s session held on June 26, Abe said regarding a contingency on the peninsula, “If an enemy launches a missile at a U.S. warship, it is possible for the enemy to initiate an attack against Japan after it sinks the warship, which may prompt Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense.” At the same time, the prime minister expressed the view that if North Korea is only hinting at an attack on Japan during a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, it would be difficult to judge the situation as threatening Japan’s existence.
In this way Abe tried to present the specific case of a situation threatening Japan’s existence that justifies the right to exercise collective self-defense. The government identifies a situation as threatening Japan’s existence by taking the impact on the people’s lives into consideration. Theoretically, it is possible to identify either a contingency on the peninsula or an indication of an attack against Japan as threatening Japan’s existence.
Director-General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau Yusuke Yokobatake remarked at the special committee on June 29: “It is difficult to explain the criteria in standardized way.”