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Stop the 'anti-piracy' bill which will destroy constitutional principles of peace

Akahata editorial

Ignoring opposition from the Japanese Communist Party and some other parties, the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties used their force of majority to railroad the "anti-piracy" bill through the House of Representatives, a bill that will allow Maritime Self-Defense Force ships deployed to waters off Somalia on anti-piracy missions to use weapons when considered necessary to protect foreign vessels. The bill was sent on to the House of Councilors.

Unlike the special measures law to send SDF units to Iraq, the 'anti-piracy' bill, if enacted, will be a permanent law. The task now is for us to scrap the bill to prevent the move to destroy the Constitutional principles of peace.

It will pave the way for use of force

Dispatching the MSDF is unconstitutional even under the pretext of participating in 'anti-piracy' missions.

In the waters off Somalia, a vicious circle of armed conflict is beginning. Recently, two "pirates" were killed by the French Navy and three others by the U.S. Navy. "Pirates" then attacked a U.S. freighter in retaliation.

If the MSDF expands its 'anti-piracy' activities off the coast of Somalia, it will likely get dragged into the vicious circle of armed conflict. Japan has its war renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution established to prevent the recurrence of a war of aggression. We must not allow our country to take the path of using force of arms in other countries.

The true aim of the "anti-piracy" bill is to pave the way for dispatching the MSDF to anywhere in the world and allowing it to use weapons under the pretext of carrying out 'anti-piracy' missions.

The bill will allow the MSDF to fire at 'pirates' that "approach" or that attempt to block the navigation of vessels of other countries for the purpose of seizing them. It will be a major departure from the present rule that the Japanese MSDF can use arms only in self-defense.

Allowing the MSDF to use weapons for expanded purposes will eventually make it possible for Japanese forces to engage in shootouts, kill "pirates," and even sink ships, as are being carried out by U.S. and other foreign naval forces.

Once the SDF is allowed to use weapons as part of performing its mission, it will mean that Japan will again be enabled to engage in wars abroad. No one can deny that the "anti-piracy" bill is unconstitutional.

Dispatching a P-3C anti-submarine patrol unit to take part in "anti-piracy" missions off Somalia for the purpose of intelligence gathering is another matter of serious concern.

The government has explained that information collected by P-3Cs and the Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels will be shared with the U.S. forces. It is obvious that this kind of activity amounts to assisting U.S. forces on offshore missions, an integral part of so-called anti-terrorism activities and operations in Somalia. This is unacceptable because it is likely to open the way to missions that are not provided for in the bill.

The SDF itself exists in violation of the Japanese Constitution, which stipulates that Japan must not possess any war potential. Because the government can't ignore the constitutional restrictions, it has repeatedly claimed that "the SDF is the minimum defense capability force for the country, so it isn't unconstitutional" (1980 government statement).

The bill to send the SDF abroad on armed missions contradicts the claim of self defense that the government has expressed repeatedly.

Scrap the bill after thoroughgoing discussion

Even if the bill is amended to include a provision that require prior parliamentary approval before action is taken, it is still unconstitutional. The Liberal Democratic and Komei parties, which railroaded the unconstitutional bill through the House of Representatives, as well as the Democratic Party of Japan which opened the way to an early vote on the bill after proposing certain limited amendments, are to blame for pushing for the unconstitutional move.

When the SDF was established, the House of Councilors on June 2, 1954 adopted the resolution stating that the SDF must not be dispatched abroad in conformity with the Constitution. The new bill to dispatch the SDF abroad obviously violates this resolution.

The opposition-controlled House of Councilors should discuss the bill thoroughly in order to scrap it.

- Akahata, April 25, 2009

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