(Nikkei: July 9, 2015 – p. 2)
The opposition has submitted counterproposals to the security-related bills to the House of Representatives. Will they help invigorate the deadlocked Diet debate? While these proposals represent a considerable gap with the government’s bills, the Abe administration should also make an effort to listen to dissenting views. We hope that this will serve as the beginning of a process to form a broad consensus on Japan’s security policy.
After three constitution scholars asserted that the security bills are “unconstitutional,” deliberations in the Diet have turned into a confrontation over the yes-or-no question of whether the bills are constitutional or not.
Discussions have been insufficient on issues that will require changes in Japan’s security policy, such as how to analyze the threat posed by China and North Korea, or how to facilitate effective collaboration between the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. forces. No wonder, voters have not been able to gain a deeper understanding of the bills.
The Abe administration reviewed the constitutional interpretation and came up with proposals to partially lift the ban on the exercise of the right to collective self-defense.
The counterproposals drawn up by the Japan Innovation Party will not allow the exercise of the collective defense right but will expand the scope of the right to individual self-defense to deal with security crises. It has also co-sponsored a territorial policing bill for responding to gray zone situations with the Democratic Party of Japan.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga welcomed the submission of these proposals. The ruling parties plan to deliberate them simultaneously with the government bills. We hope that both ruling and opposition parties will see the merits of each other’s proposals and engage in discussions for revising the bills.
We are concerned that certain opposition members are trying to use deliberation on the counterproposals or discussions on revisions to the security bills to stall for time. They appear to be attempting to thwart the 60-day rule, under which the House of Councillors’ failure to vote on the bills within 60 days will be regarded as de facto rejection, after which the Lower House can pass them with a second vote.
After the hearings in Tokyo on July 13, deliberation time on the security bills will have exceeded 100 hours. While this is not a question of number of hours, it is also irresponsible not to come up with a decision forever. (Slightly abridged)