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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 April 30 - May 13  > Air SDF secretly studied about ‘military tribunal’ to be established before constitutional revision
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2008 April 30 - May 13 [SDF]

Air SDF secretly studied about ‘military tribunal’ to be established before constitutional revision

May 13, 2008
Ignoring the constitutional principle of peace, the Air Self-Defense Force secretly began a study on the establishment of a “military tribunal”.

This was revealed by Akahata, which obtained an article entitled, “Introduction of SDF tribunal and its feasibility” in the number 23 (2004) issue of Hoyoku (‘legal wing’), an internal journal published by the legal section of the Air SDF Staff Office.

This is a dangerous move that accords with the Liberal Democratic Party proposal for establishing a military court in its draft of a new constitutional.

The article was written by a Defense Agency staff member at the time while he was studying at Chuo University’s law school on an ASDF program.

Expressing strong expectations for constitutional revision in the near future, the author maintains that a military tribunal should be introduced in the SDF even before a constitutional revision so that the SDF will be recognized as a ‘military force’ since it is not recognized as such under the war-renouncing Constitution.

The article argues that the military court will give the SDF the “self-contained military power” to maintain their discipline and block the infringement of security of SDF facilities from outside.

A military court, if established, will enable the SDF to try civilians, for example, on charges such as of destroying SDF facilities or leaking defense secrets.

Also, the military tribunal will mean getting the SDF well prepared for a long-term and large scale overseas deployment in the name of Japan’s “international contribution.”

The Defense Ministry’s public affairs section says that the article represents the author’s personal view and not an official SDF position.

However, in the foreword to the journal, the chief of the legal section wrote that “the article is very interesting,” with words of admiration.

Lawyer Naito Isao, an expert in the former Japanese Army’s court martial, said, “The article proposes that the SDF have a military tribunal as a temporary means until a court martial system and a military criminal code are established after a constitutional revision. We must not allow such an unconstitutional attempt to take place. This is very dangerous as it surfaced when the government is attempting to enact a permanent law to dispatch the SDF abroad.”

Kobayashi Takeshi, Aichi University professor, stated, “This represents the SDF’s anti-constitutional intents. Such an article by an incumbent SDF member undermines the principle that public service employees ‘have the obligation to respect and uphold the Constitution.’ If the article is shared by the ministry, it amounts to a serious violation of the Constitution by the ministry.”
- Akahata, May 13, 2008
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