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SDF commander-turned LDP Dietmember: Iraq-dispatched SDF unit was ready to guard friendly troops under fire


   Commenting on the issue of collective self-defense, Sato Masahisa, a former Ground Self-Defense Force official who had commanded the GSDF unit first dispatched to Iraq and was elected to the House of Councilors in the recent election, in a TV program aired on August 10 said, gIn Iraq, we were prepared to move to guard friendly troops if they came under attack.h


   gIn the event that the Dutch troops that were close to us were attacked, if the SDF did nothing to respond, the SDF would have come under harsh criticism.h said Sato.


   The Koizumi government dispatched SDF units to Iraq, claiming that those units were deployed to only non-combat zones, because the SDF is prohibited from using force abroad.


   Sato, however, revealed the plan to justify guarding friendly troops, saying, gUnder the pretext of information gathering, we would rush to the site so that we would also get involved in the situation.h He went on to say, gThis is because unless we got involved in, we could not create a situation in which we could act in self-defense or use the right of necessity. If we were to go to trial under Japanese laws for this reason, we would be happy to do so.h


   Arguing that Satofs remarks gnot only violates the SDF law but also goes against Article 9,h lawyers and civic groups on August 16 sent an open letter to Sato and called on LDP President Abe Shinzo to advice Sato to resign as Dietmember.


   The open letter asks Sato if he is still in favor of the ggetting-involved-in strategy.h Pointing out that Satofs ggetting-involved-in strategyh is similar to the Liutiaohu Incident in 1931 that Japanfs Imperial Army arbitrarily carried out to invent the pretext to begin the occupation of Northeast China, the letter also asks what Sato thinks about the Kwantung Armyfs outrageous activities.


   gRushing to guard friendly troopsh is one of the four scenarios that the Abe LDP-Komei Party government is considering to lift successive governmentsf ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense.


   With the U.S. pressure in the background, the Abe government intends to enable Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense in order to turn Japan into a nation capable of fighting wars abroad alongside the U.S. by changing constitutional interpretations even before formal constitutional revision.

- Akahata, August 17, 2007


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