Saturday 28 June 2014

Japan to dump renunciation of war

Cabinet Decision On Collective Defense May Effectively End Ban On Use Of Force
A Cabinet decision to reinterpret war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense could open the way to a complete end to the ban on the use of force.

28 June, 2014

The government presented the draft of a Cabinet decision to change its interpretation of the Constitution to a June 27 session of the ruling coalition's consultative body on the reconstruction of the legal framework for national security. Junior ruling coalition partner New Komeito's executive board intends to reach an official agreement on the Cabinet decision with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at the coalition's consultative body on July 1, after New Komeito legislators agree on June 30 to leave a decision on the issue up to the party leadership.

The draft states that the use of force "could be based on the right to collective self-defense provided for by international law." As self-defensive measures, the draft leaves open the possibility that Japan will use force not only in exercising the right to collective self-defense but also under U.N.-led collective security arrangements.

LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura said, "We haven't decided on the matter (of collective security arrangements). It's still a blank page." New Komeito accepted Komura's explanation.

Therefore, the new interpretation would largely deviate from the government's longstanding interpretation of Article 9, which allows Japan to use force only for individual self-defense.

Nevertheless, Komura denied that the reinterpretation would pull the teeth from the pacifist principles of the supreme law, saying, "We'll completely retain the doctrine of the Constitution."

Kazuo Kitagawa, deputy leader of New Komeito, echoed Komura's view. "The basic principles of the Constitution will be perfectly maintained," he said.

The draft of the Cabinet decision sets three conditions under which Japan could use force, including cases of armed attack on another country that clearly threatens Japanese citizens' fundamental rights, and threats to Japan's existence.

The draft underscores the need to distinguish the interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution from international law's provision for the right to self-defense. It then mentions "self-defensive measures" the Constitution would be reinterpreted to allow Japan to take, bearing in mind the right to individual self-defense and collective self-defense as well as collective security arrangements.

The legal framework that has permitted Japan's participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations only in zones already at peace would be eliminated. The draft of the Cabinet decision states that the government would seek to enact or amend legislation to allow the Self-Defense Forces to provide logistical support to armed forces of other nations in peacekeeping operations in areas at peace but with an imminent risk of armed conflict.

The preamble of the draft underscores the need for the creation of legislation and diplomatic efforts to prevent armed conflict out of consideration for New Komeito, which has been reluctant to accede to allowing the exercise of the right to collective self-defense. It also states that Japan must abide by the U.N. Charter and steadily follow the path of a peaceful country.

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