(Mainichi: July 2, 2015 – p. 2)
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani stated at the House of Representatives special committee on the peace and security-related bills on July 1 that air tankers of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) may refuel fighters of the U.S. and other foreign forces as part of logistic support for other countries under the security bills. He said that this will be conducted in locations where fighting is not taking place, stressing that the refueling operation will not become a part of the use of force by other countries.
The Japanese Communist Party’s Nobuko Motomura retorted with: “If the fighters of a foreign country ready to launch air strikes on Japan are refueled by the armed forces of a third country, will these two countries not be regarded as working together (by Japan)?”
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pointed out that [whether an operation becomes part of the use of force by another country] is a uniquely Japanese argument but he did not deny the possibility that Japan may be regarded as becoming part of another country’s use of force.
Meanwhile, Nakatani stated that invoking the right to individual self-defense when Japan has not been attacked “may violate international laws,” thus emphasizing the need to authorize the exercise of the right to collective self-defense. He disagreed with the position of the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Innovation Party on this point.
Kishida also said in his response that invoking the individual defense right “in a situation where another country has not requested Japan to do so and there has been no armed attack on Japan may be regarded as an armed attack.”
Prior to these exchanges, journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, an unsworn witness endorsed by the opposition, expressed his concern at the committee’s hearing that the expansion of SDF operations may increase Japan’s risks of being attacked by terrorists.
Former Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kyoji Yanagisawa, another opposition-endorsed witness, said that the concept of survival-threatening situation is not valid because he does not understand how Japan’s survival can be threatened.
On the other hand, former SDF Chief of Staff Ryoichi Oriki, the ruling bloc-endorsed unsworn witness, supported the security bills on the grounds that “they will enable SDF training in advance and this will enhance deterrence.”
Another ruling party witness, Kazuhisa Ogawa, specially-appointed professor at the University of Shizuoka, hailed the security bills, remarking that “none of the provisions are unconstitutional.”
Professor Kenji Isesaki of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies graduate school, another opposition witness, noted that there is an increasing possibility that [the SDF] may be forced to use weapons during peacekeeping operations (PKO). He pointed out that “the legal measures are not in place for the government to take full responsibility (for the SDF’s operations).”