Democratic Party's ambivalence on SDF participation in MNF -- Akahata editorial, June 29

Whether or not the Self-Defense Forces should be allowed to participate in the multinational force in Iraq is a major issue in the House of Councilors election.

The election is being fought at a time when Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro is going ahead with the plan he promised U.S. President George W. Bush to have the SDF take part in the multinational force. This makes the election a referendum on the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties.

The position of the Democratic Party of Japan also raises questions. DPJ President Okada Katsuya in his first election campaign speech stated, "The issue of the SDF's participation in the multinational force is a matter that questions the raison d'Étre of the Constitution" and also called for the SDF to be withdrawn from Iraq, thus trying to impress the public on how strong the DPJ opposition is to the SDF participation in the multinational force.

This DPJ attitude needs to be scrutinized.

'It's OK if a UN resolution is in place'

It is necessary to acknowledge that the Democratic Party has been in favor of Japan's participation in the MNF. On October 4, 2003, Okada stated that Japan had better consider "deploying the SDF in Iraq" (under the multinational force) provided that the U.N. has adopted a new resolution at the request of Iraq's provisional government. Also, Kan Naoto, DPJ president at the time, told the U.N. Secretary General last May that the DPJ may consider sending the SDF if a multinational force is established by a UN resolution.

Underlying the DPJ position on this issue is its principle that the Japan-U.S. military alliance is absolute, as clear from the DPJ's Upper House election manifesto calling for Japan's "mature partnership" with the U.S.

The United States learned from the 1991 Gulf War that it can establish a multinational force and go to war based on a U.N. resolution allowing the U.S. to command. The U.S. has persistently urged Japan to take steps to join the SDF in the multinational force. Such a high-handed attitude was only possible because the U.S. always regards Japan as a U.S. military ally that follows orders.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's report issued in the run-up to the inauguration of the Bush administration called on Japan to push constitutional revision so that it may use the right to collective self-defense. The report also urged Japan to be ready to fully cooperate with U.S. forces in order to commit "anti-terror wars" and "maintain a peaceful world order". The report reveals the extraordinary pressure the U.S. administration has put on Japan.

Concerning the "U.N. standby force", which is referred to in the DPJ election policy, Okada in the June 27 debate with other party leaders stated, "Japan should have SDF personnel participate in the standby force." This means building an SDF that can use force abroad under the name of the United Nations, which is nothing less than an overseas dispatch of the SDF.

Japan's participation in the multinational force is in contravention of Article 9 of the Constitution. The DPJ's argument about constitutional revisions is no different from that of the LDP.

On May 3, Okada said, "It would be better to revise the Constitution to enable the SDF to take part in a multinational force or a U.N. force based on a U.N. resolution and use force in certain circumstances."

The DPJ's interim report on constitutional revision included calls for "U.N.-led collective security" and "the use of force". Given the fact that the United States insists that it will not surrender command authority to the United Nations and that the establishment of a U.N. force is unlikely, there is no other way for the SDF than to join the multinational force and use force under U.S. command.

Who represents the public?

Opinion polls showed that a majority of people are opposed to the SDF participation in the multinational force.

On the issue of the SDF participation in the multinational force, the JCP in opposition squarely confronts the three parties (LDP, Komei, DPJ) that adhere to the Japan-U.S. military alliance and want to promote overseas deployment of the SDF in violation of the Constitution.

The JCP opposes the SDF participation in the multinational force because of its belief in peace in compliance with the Constitution.

A major JCP advance will block the three parties' march to war and instead pave the way for peace in the future. (end)

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