By Toru Higashioka
The government will focus on the issue of participation in a “coalition of the willing” proposed by the U.S. to secure the safety in the Strait of Hormuz for the time being. On July 19, Washington explained the coalition program to concerned nations and called for their participation. Japan will look into the matter.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on an NHK program on July 21 that Japan is inquiring into the coalition program. He did not reveal whether Japan will join the coalition, saying, “We need to develop a better understating of it.” On the other hand, he also said “Japan is on good terms not only with the U.S. but also with Iran” and added that “Japan should do what it can do to contribute to making the Strait of Hormuz a peaceful waterway.”
But it is not easy for the Self-Defense Forces to participate in the U.S.-led coalition. Legal hurdles remain in engaging the SDF in maritime policing operations based on the SDF law and dispatching them based on the security laws. If these actions cannot be taken based on the existing laws, the submission of a special legislation to the autumn Diet session would be taken into consideration. Meanwhile, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi expressed a cautious stance in a TV Tokyo program on July 21, saying that “We are not in a situation where we need to send the SDF immediately.”
The Japan-ROK relationship has sunk into a quagmire since the Supreme Court of Korea ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation to former wartime requisitioned workers.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono summoned ROK Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo and lodged a strong protest against Seoul’s refusal to enter an arbitration process based on the settlement of claims accord between Japan and the ROK. Meanwhile, Japan’s introduction of tougher export controls on semiconductor materials is provoking anger from the South Korea. No path to ending the stalemate is in sight yet. In a TV Asahi program on July 21, Abe noted that “Japan would like the ROK to deal with this matter sincerely to build mutual trust.”
The signing of a peace treaty with Russia remains unaddressed, too. In a Fuji TV program, Abe said that “I would like to make progress while I am president of the Liberal Democratic Party.”