(Tokyo Shimbun: February 19, 2016 – p. 5)
The security laws have been criticized for being unconstitutional. Now is the time to rectify them from the very foundation.
The Abe administration enacted the so-called “peace and security laws” on Sept. 19 last year.
Five months have passed since then. The Diet has practically turned into a venue for the government and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to explain the many scandals involving cabinet ministers and Diet members. Discussion on the security laws has been neglected.
However, we cannot afford to let the Abe administration’s security laws become fait accompli because these are laws that authorize the exercise of the right to collective self-defense or participation in other countries’ wars and are regarded by many constitution scholars to be unconstitutional.
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Japanese Communist Party, the Japan Innovation Party (JIP), the Social Democratic Party, and the People’s Life Party will submit a bill for the revocation of these laws today.
One motive of the opposition parties is probably to make this an issue in the House of Councillors election this summer, but we appreciate the significance of this act nevertheless.
Ahead of the submission of this bill, the DPJ and the JIP also submitted three bills, including a territorial policing bill, yesterday as counterproposals to the security laws. The ruling parties must deliberate these bills seriously along with the bill for the revocation of the security laws.
The biggest problem with the security laws is that the government’s interpretation of the constitutional provision on the collective defense right adhered to by all past cabinets was changed by the decision of one single cabinet.
Previous cabinets consistently took the position that while Japan, as a sovereign state, has the right to collective self-defense, the exercise of this right goes beyond the limits of its strictly defensive policy. Therefore, this is not allowed.
This constitutional interpretation that represented a challenge to consistency with international law was the result of extensive debate in the Diet and the administration.
While Japan may use force to repel an attack on the country, it will never use force overseas. The Constitution’s pacifism is what defines Japan as a nation after World War II and the very foundation of its security policy.
The Abe cabinet’s decision of July 2014 that authorizes the exercise of the collective defense right undermines the legal stability of the Constitution and distorts the very foundation of security policy. No wonder many constitution scholars regard the security laws based on this cabinet decision to be unconstitutional.
It is necessary to revoke the cabinet decision and repeal the security laws in order to restore Japan’s security policy to its former exclusively defensive posture.
We would like to see the bill submitted by the opposition parties to repeal the security laws as the first step in rectifying Japan’s security policy that is deviating from the strictly defensive posture. The ruling parties should not evade this issue; they should engage in debate in a dignified manner.
The security laws are due to take effect by the end of March. Why not consider postponing this as a first step?
Rectifying the security policy from the very foundation will require the support of public opinion. Rallies will be held today near the Diet and at various locations nationwide. The Abe administration should listen to the public’s voice.
Most important of all, the people should show their determination to stand by the strictly defensive security policy through the election. Resignation and indifference will only result in the administration getting out of control.
We, the newspapers, should, no doubt, stand on the side of the people upholding pacifism. We must not take the government’s words at face value and should persist in raising issues based on our own judgment. We would like to impose upon ourselves once again this duty expected of a newspaper. (Abridged)