Unconstitutional bill allowing SDF to take part in U.N. PKF enacted

A bill to lift the 'freeze' on participation by Japan's Self-Defense
Forces units in United Nations peace-keeping forces became a law after it
was rammed through in the House of Councilors plenary session on December 7.

The government parties (Liberal Democratic, Komei, and New Conservative
parties) and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan voted in favor of the
bill to amend the International Peace Cooperation Law (peace-keeping
operations law), while the Japanese Communist Party and the Democratic
Social Party voted against.

Speaking at the Upper House Security and Foreign Affairs Committee
meeting on December 6, Yoshioka Yoshinori of the Japanese Communist Party
stated that when the PKO Law was enacted in 1992 the government maintained
that SDF units will not play a role in a PKF. Yoshioka said that the
government prohibition should not be allowed under the pretext of a 'change
in the situation.' He criticized the government for pushing ahead with the
overseas sending of the SDF by an underhanded constitutional interpretation.

When the SDF Law was revised to add clauses on SDF cooperation with U.N.
peace-keeping operations, the clauses were not attached to the main rules
but in its miscellaneous provisions. Explaining the reason why, the
government said that putting the clause in the main rules contradicts the
government argument that the SDF is not unconstitutional because it is
assigned to engage exclusively in the defense of Japan.

Defense Agency Director General Nakatani Gen stressed the significance of
the changes that have taken place in the global situation since the SDF Law
was established (in 1954), when neither UN peace-keeping operations nor a
fight against terrorism existed.

Refuting this, Yoshioka stressed that the overseas dispatch of the SDF
overseas is unconstitutional, whether it is to counter terrorism or to take
part in the peace-keeping operations.

In answer to Yoshioka's question about U.N. peace-keeping operations
being set up without a cease-fire agreement or the country's consent, the
Defense Agency chief said that the five principles of the SDF participation
in PKOs will be reviewed accordingly.

Yoshioka criticized the government for refusing to give up seeking ways
to dispatch the SDF abroad in spite of the Constitution and even with the
SDF Law intact.

Koizumi Chikashi (JCP) sternly opposed such an undemocratic way of
railroading the bill through the house with only 12 hours spent on
discussions in the Upper House committee, considering the fact that this is
such a grave bill that conflicts with Article 9 of the Constitution.

In a vague expression that SDF personnel in PKOs will be allowed to use
weapons to secure weapons and munitions in defense of "those who came under
their control," the government PKO bill, if enacted, would ease restrictions
on the use of weapons.

By so doing, the government wants to allow SDF units to escalate its use
of force (including heavy firearms) abroad, Koizumi said.

Members of the Joint Action Center against Terrorism, Retaliatory War and
Sending SDF Abroad and religious organizations marched in demonstration
around the Diet Building and petitioned Dietmembers in opposition to the PKO
Law revision. (end)