SDF dispatch law bulldozed through Lower House

The three ruling parties (Liberal Democratic, Komei, and New Conservative
parties) used their majority to railroad through a bill in the House of
Representatives Plenary Session to allow the Self-Defense Forces to take
part in the on-going U.S.-led retaliatory war in complete disregard of
strong public opposition .

The Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal
Party, and the Social Democratic Party voted against the bill. The bill was
sent to the House of Councilors for consideration.

About 2,000 people gathered in front of the Diet Building to protest
against the Lower House action, saying that the bill must be discussed fully
in the House of Councilors and then be abolished.

At the plenary session, Akamine Seiken spoke against the bill. While
denouncing the terrorist attacks in the U.S., he demanded that U.S.-led
military attacks against Afghanistan be stopped immediately and that global
efforts be made under the United Nations to have the terrorists brought to

Akamine, who is a representative from Okinawa, recalled the Battle of
Okinawa in which almost one-third of Okinawans were killed toward the end of
the Second World War. Quoting Okinawa's saying "Nuchi du Takara" (Nothing is
more important than life), he insisted that the Constitution which renounces
war represents Okinawans' earnest desire for peace.

The Lower House also passed an SDF Law amendment bill which allows the
government to mobilize the SDF to guard U.S. military bases in Japan, and
calls for a harsher punishment for the leak of "defense secrets." The DPJ,
as well as the ruling parties, voted in favor, while the JCP, the Liberal
and Social Democratic parties against.

PrimeMinister Koizumi's answers in the Lower House: JCP Shii

Shii Kazuo, JCP chair, said , "Post-war Japan has never seen such a bill
that will allow SDF units to take part in the on-going combat. The new law
if enacted will enable Japan's military forces to kill people of other
countries and endanger Japanese personnel. It is very serious that such a
law was put to a vote after only a five-day discussion."

Referring to Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's statement that "there
are discrepancies between the Preamble and Article 9 of the Constitution" to
justify Japan's military role, Shii said, "It doesn't make sense because the
term 'international cooperation' used in the preamble calls for
international cooperation for peace. It is identical to the constitutional
principle of lasting peace." Isn't it the Liberal Democratic Party itself
that has the biggest lack of knowledge about the Constitution?"

"Koizumi has overturned the past government view that the SDF is not 'war
potential' by saying that 'it is now common sense,' " he added.

Only five days of committee discussion

In the House of Representatives, only five days were spent in committee
discussions of the bill to allow Self-Defense Forces units to take part in
the retaliatory war.

At the committee meeting, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social
Democratic Party voted against.

JCP Yamaguchi Tomio said that the new law, which will allow SDF units to
carry out logistics, such as transport, supply, search, and rescue
activities for the U.S. Forces, amounts to integrating actions with the U.F.
Forces which are using force, in direct violation of the Constitution which
renounced the use of weapons.

Although the government made some changes in the text of the bill to call
for a Diet 'approval' to be required for sending SDF units within 20 days of
their departure, it will not be a stopgap to legislating the
unconstitutional bill, Yamaguchi said.

Other parties

The Liberal Democratic Party has tried to justify the bill as being
constitutional despite its provisions allowing the Self-Defense Forces to
use military force in violation of the Constitution. An LDP representative
in the Lower House said, "The bill is within the constitutional framework.
It is intended to support and cooperate as much as possible with efforts to
prevent and eliminate terrorism in accordance with the Preamble to the
Constitution as well as Article 98 which calls for international

The LDP has declined to discuss the problems of SDF activities being
without geographical limitations, the SDF giving U.S.military operations
carte blanche, or SDF activities being integrated with U.S. military

Regarding the controversial issue whether parliamentary approval should
be required for SDF operations abroad in support of the anti-terrorist
military operations, the LDP mended its bill to include requirement of
parliamentary approval after the fact and limiting SDF transport of arms and
munitions to maritime transportation. This does not change the
unconstitutional character of the bill.

The Democratic Party of Japan has advocated sending SDF troops
abroad, saying that a new type of response to the terrorist attacks,
including the use of the SDF, is necessary. Although it demanded a rule
that parliamentary approval is required for sending SDF units abroad for
anti-terrorist operations, it basically agreed with the government proposal
when it proposed an amendment which called for such approval to be obtained
only after the fact by adding the phrase "in the event of an emergency."

The DPJ voted in favor of the adverse revision of the Self-Defense Forces
Law that would allow the SDF to guard facilities of U.S. Forces in Japan
as well as their own.

The Liberal Party opposes the dispatch of the SDF abroad for supporting
U.S. military operations. It says that such an action should only be
carried out after a change is made in the interpretation of the Constitution
to establish the constitutionality of allowing Japan to exercise the right
of collective self-defense.

It has criticized the government for refusing to present the parliament
with the rationale behind the proposal for sending the SDF abroad in
connection with the related constitutional provisions. It's "irresponsible
and haphazard," they said.

The Social Democratic Party in parliament criticized Prime Minister
Koizumi for deceiving the public by explaining that there would be no use of
force by the SDF. "How ridiculous it is for the prime minister to say such
a thing. The truth is that sending the SDF not only involves the use of
force but the danger of exercising the right of collective self-defense,
which the Japanese Constitution prohibits. (end)