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Government seeks to amend wartime law in order to mobilize local governments for U.S. wars
Akahata editorial (excerpts)
The Japanese government is planning to amend the 1999 Law for Measures to Deal with Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan that obliges local governments to provide civil ports and airports under their control in the event of wars launched by the U.S. in areas surrounding Japan.
Amending the law is designed to implement the May 1 Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (SCC) agreement which stressed the "imperative of strengthening and improving the effectiveness of bilateral security and defense cooperation" to accelerate the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
This year, 16 U.S. warships entered Japan's civil ports between January and May. The number is unusually high considering that the number for last year was 14 and that the highest annual number of portcalls since 1999 has been 21.
The number of U.S. warships' portcalls has increased since the release of the October 29, 2005 Security Consultative Committee document, entitled "U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future." The document specifies concrete steps to be taken to deal with contingencies, including contingency use by U.S. forces and the SDF of civil airports and seaports in Japan and stipulates that the two countries conduct "detailed surveys" of civilian and SDF air and seaports.
The U.S. military realignment will establish in Japan a foothold for U.S. preemptive attacks. Using Japan as a stepping-stone specifically for force concentration, provision of supplies, and origin of sorties is at the core of the plan. The U.S. military thus wants to use not only U.S. and SDF bases but also civil ports and airports that are under local civil jurisdiction.
In 1994, the U.S. demanded that its military forces be given access to six ports and ten airports in Japan for military sanctions against North Korea under the pretext of its nuclear program.
The 1997 Law for Measures to Deal with Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan just provides that the government can ask local governments to cooperate with the central government when the necessity arises. Because the "situation in areas surrounding Japan" has nothing to do with the defense of Japan, the government cannot force local governments to cooperate with U.S. forces in the event of wars. Given that any integration of Japan-U.S. forces is unconstitutional, it is constitutional for local governments to reject such demands for civil port use.
In the December 2002 talks, despite the strong U.S. demand, the Japanese and U.S. governments failed to specify the names of ports/airports in the mutual cooperation plan in the event of war.
Complaining about this, the U.S. blatantly began to urge Japan to give U.S. forces free access to Japan's civil ports. This is a flagrant contempt of the Japanese Constitution.
Under international law, allowing U.S. forces to use these civil facilities which are under local jurisdiction will mean running the risk of exposing them to attacks. This has an important bearing on the lives of local residents.
The first additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions Act, which Japan ratified, states that attacks shall not be limited to an object which "is being used to make an effective contribution to military action."
The government has no right to mobilize local governments for wars or to rob local residents of their right to live in peace.
Opposition to the plan to realign U.S. forces in Japan is increasingly important for defending the peace and the safety of Japan. Let us join forces with local governments and residents to develop this struggle.
- Akahata, June 7, 2006
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