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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 May 21 - 27  > Japan’s peace maintained by the Constitution, not by force: ex-defense official
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2014 May 21 - 27 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Japan’s peace maintained by the Constitution, not by force: ex-defense official

May 25, 2014
Akahata Sunday edition

Koike Kiyohiko, the mayor of Kamo City in Niigata Prefecture, also a former high-ranking official at the national defense authorities, warned in an interview with Akahata about Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s intent to allow Japan to use the right to collective self-defense. The following is an excerpt from his interview:

Abe is aiming to make a “small loophole” in the Japanese Constitution by reinterpreting it and allow the state’s exercise of the collective self-defense right.

Once the state is authorized to use the right, however, the “small loophole” will continue to grow. Consequently, the proposed constitutional reinterpretation will amount to destroying the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

When the Gulf War broke out in 1991, I served as the head of the National Institute for Defense Studies at the Defense Agency (the current Defense Ministry). Within the agency, I strongly opposed a plan to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to the gulf region, arguing that it could result in the deaths of SDF members. In the end, the government gave up on implementing the plan. At that time, I thought that the Constitution is a “national treasure” which protects people from the excesses of the state.

If the administration revises the current interpretation of the supreme law, Tokyo will not be able to reject Washington’s demand for the dispatch of SDF troops abroad. It will cause many SDF members to kill and be killed in battlegrounds, and thus nobody would want to join the SDF. As a result, the government would need to impose a draft system.

PM Abe insists that the state will use the collective self-defense right in a “limited manner”. However, his argument is totally off the wall.

The nature of the right to collective self-defense is this: In case the United States, Japan’s ally, comes under attack from a third country, Japan will wage war against the third country even though Japan is not attacked by that nation.

Even if Japan claims that it exercises the collective self-defense right “with limitaions”, Japan’s counterpart will not accept the claim as such. Once Japan attacks another nation, it will inevitably develop into a full-scale war. This is common knowledge in warfare.

The war-renouncing Constitution has kept Japan from directly engaging in wars, such as the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf wars. Japan’s government dispatched SDF troops to Iraq, but they were banned from entering war zones.

Although the prime minister repeats that “international tensions are escalating”, I feel to the contrary. Compared to the Cold War period when we were faced with the risk of nuclear war, now is a peaceful time.

The best commander is a person who can protect his subordinates’ lives. Those who always try to use force will fail in the end.

Instead of pursuing ways to employ armed force overseas, the government should implement policies oriented toward national self-defense in accordance with the spirit of the pacifist Constitution.

Past related articles:
> Shii opposes Abe’s attempt to enable Japan to use armed forces abroad [May 16, 2014]
> Japan could follow path to war: former LDP executive [March 18, 2014]
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