(Asahi: July 7, 2015 – p. 4)
By Kenjiro Takahashi, Shinichi Fujiwara
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Japan Innovation Party (JIP) agreed on July 6 to jointly submit to the current Diet session a territorial policing bill to deal with the so-called “gray zone situations” short of an actual armed attacked on Japan. The bill envisions response to Chinese armed forces’ intrusion into areas near the Senkaku Islands. Meanwhile, JIP supreme adviser Toru Hashimoto (Osaka mayor) and others have indicated their objection to collaboration with the DPJ. This issue may become a source of trouble in the party.
The territorial policing bill aims at strengthening cooperation among the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), and the police in operations to drive out armed militia disguised as fishermen who have landed on and occupied the Senkaku Islands.
In light of Komeito’s reservations regarding the expansion of the SDF’s powers, the Abe cabinet has not submitted any bills on the “gray zone situations” and has only proposed operational improvements, such as introducing a system of cabinet meeting by phone to speed up the mobilization of the JCG and the SDF.
The DPJ works on the idea of “taking realistic measures for contiguous situations and restrained measures for distant situations” (in the words of party leader Katsuya Okada). While it is opposed to minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East — which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe often cites as an example of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense – it asserts that legislative measures are needed for gray zone situations on Japanese territory.
Although the DPJ has not come up with counterproposals to the Abe cabinet’s security bills, it has been considering a territorial policing bill since the fishing boat collision incident in waters off the Senkakus in 2010 under the DPJ administration. It was going to propose the bill jointly with the JIP in May, but talks between the two parties stopped after the JIP supported the Abe administration in the vote on amendments to the Worker Dispatching Business Law.
The DPJ is now making another bid to jointly submit the bill to the Diet. Its Policy Research Committee Chairman Goshi Hosono and other senior officials are working to deepen relations with the JIP in steering Diet affairs, with a future realignment of opposition forces in mind.
At a joint news conference with Hosono, JIP policy chief Masato Imai, a former DPJ member, said: “We basically agree (with the DPJ) that there needs to be legislation on situations close to home and [the SDF] should not go overseas too much.”
Meanwhile, the “Osaka faction” in the JIP close to Hashimoto is disgruntled with cooperation with the DPJ. At a plenary meeting of the regional party Osaka Restoration Association on July 4, Hashimoto broached the idea of forming a “Kansai restoration association” to unite JIP forces in Kansai as a way to counter collaboration with the DPJ. He told JIP Secretary General Mito Kakizawa by phone on July 5 that “people in Osaka are dissatisfied with various aspects of the status quo in the JIP.”
Differences between forces favoring cooperation with other opposition parties and the “Osaka faction,” which considers cooperation with the administration to be an option, are surfacing once again.