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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 February 6 - 12  > Abe’s security panel moves toward weakening Constitution
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2013 February 6 - 12 [POLITICS]

Abe’s security panel moves toward weakening Constitution

February 10, 2013
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Abe government reconvened the prime minister’s advisory Panel on the Reconstruction of the National Security Legal Foundation headed by former Ambassador to the U.S. Yanai Shunji, to resume studies on the use of the right to collective self-defense that past governments have rejected as unconstitutional. The panel aims to compile a proposal by this summer.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo gathered only like-minded intellectuals with the intent to overturn the conventional constitutional interpretations based on their proposal. To achieve his ambition of enabling Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense is a dangerous attempt.

The use of the right to collective self-defense has been Abe’s long sought goal. The panel was first established in 2007 with the same members when he was heading his first Cabinet. However, Abe resigned as prime minister before the panel presented a proposal. The panel later submitted the proposal but Abe’s successor Fukuda Yasuo put it on the shelf for later consideration. Given the successive governments’ position deeming the use of the right to collective self-defense as unconstitutional, Fukuda’s handling of the matter was a matter of course. As soon as Abe made his comeback to power, he again convened the panel and seeks to receive a proposal once again calling for the right to be implemented into law.

By exercising the right to collective self-defense, Japan can resort to force to help its ally, the United States, even if Japan is not militarily under attack. The present Constitution renounces war, the right to belligerency, and war potential. The use of force together with other countries even without an armed attack on Japan means that Japan will engage in warfare unrelated to national defense.

Past governments have regarded the Self-Defense Forces as the minimum force only to be used for self-defense, not as a true war potential as prohibited in the Constitution. The Abe government now wants to overturn this interpretation and enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. It is clearly a radical change in constitutional interpretation. It can be considered to be unconstitutional that Abe, as prime minister who is supposed to have an obligation to respect the Constitution, set up a panel funded by tax revenues to have it come up with some claim of legitimacy for the use of the right to collective self-defense.

The panel’s past proposal authorized the SDF to use force in four scenarios such as when protecting U.S. warships on the high seas and intercepting missiles heading for the U.S. The panel, however, failed to show reasonable grounds why SDF vessels can launch attacks to protect U.S. warships when Japan is not under attack and why Japan can shoot down ballistic missiles not targeting Japan but heading to the U.S. To make changes in constitutional interpretations only with the aim of strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance and moving onto a path for war openly with the United States is totally irrational from a national defense perspective. It is important to dissuade Abe from going ahead with the dangerous attempt to implement the use of the right to collective self-defense.
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