May 16, 2014
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on May 15 announced that his administration will begin discussing a new constitutional interpretation which allows Japan's use of the right to collective self-defense in response to a proposal by his private security panel.
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo later on the same day held a press conference in the Diet building and issued a statement criticizing Abe's panel as undermining the Constitution and opening the way to become a nation fighting wars abroad.
Following is the full text of the statement:
On May 15, Prime Minister Abe's advisory panel on reconstruction of the legal basis for security released its report.
The report criticizes successive administrations' constitutional interpretation banning Japan's use of the collective self-defense right as "inappropriate" and demands that that interpretation be changed.
The right of collective self-defense would allow Japan to use its armed forces to defend other countries despite no military attack being launched against Japan. This is nothing short of abolishing the constitutional "ban on the use of armed forces abroad".
Japan dispatched troops of the Self-Defense Forces in support of the U.S.-led retaliatory war in Afghanistan in 2001 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, the SDF troops there were bound by the constitutional restriction on the use of arms. If the exercise of the controversial right is legalized, the constitutional limit will be lifted. This will lead to situations where SDF troops will go to battle areas and join in the fighting together with the U.S. forces.
It is the height of arrogance for the Abe government to make a Cabinet decision to achieve this end. Changing the constitutional interpretation by a Cabinet decision in line with its policy is tantamount to denying constitutionalism.
The JCP opposes the Abe government's attempt to undermine the Constitution and turn Japan into a nation capable of fighting wars abroad.
The report presents several conditions for invoking the right to collective self-defense supposedly to limit that right to "minimum necessary" scenarios.
However, under what circumstances Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense will be determined by the government after comprehensively taking the situation into consideration, claims the report. Therefore, depending on the government decision, the scope of the use of force abroad could expand without limits. The phrase "minimum necessary" will not act as a "brake" at all.
The minimum necessary phrase is just a rhetorical ploy to set precedent. It is obvious that removing the constitutional brake banning the use of force abroad will increase the possibility of Japan applying the right to collective self-defense in various situations.
The report cites various cases of specific actions that would need to be taken in order to stress the need for Japan's exercise of the right to collective self-defense.
Such examples as that a U.S. warship is under attack and that Japan intercepts ballistic missiles fired toward the U.S. are all just speculations that would unlikely or simply be impossible to occur in reality.
It is unacceptable for the government to instill fear in the general public with these unrealistic imaginary situations as a way to persuade them to accept Japan's exercise of the right to collective self-defense.
Along with legalization of the state's exercise of the right to collective self-defense, the report states that Japan's participation in UN collective security measures which entail military measures "should be interpreted as not being subject to constitutional restrictions," expressing its approval to the participation in the UN multinational forces without any restrictions regarding the use of arms.
If Japan's exercise of the right to collective self-defense and its participation in the multinational forces are both permitted, Japan will be able to take part in all types of wars other than aggressive ones.
This is a totally irrational argument aiming to turn Article 9 of the Constitution into a dead letter.
The report repeatedly cites the recent changes in the security environment around Japan as the only reason to revise the constitutional interpretation.
However, in order to ease tensions and settle disputes in northeast Asia, the urgent need now for Japan is to develop a diplomatic strategy seeking a system to secure peace and stability in the region. The JCP has been calling for a peaceful community in Northeast Asia along with a framework of regional cooperation as already in place in Southeast Asia.
The Abe government lacks this kind of strategy. If Japan keeps becoming more dependent on militaristic responses without exercising diplomatic efforts, it will create a vicious cycle of violence and threats leading to more of the same. The JCP stresses that this move is extremely harmful as it will greatly increase regional tensions.
Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Yamashita Yoshiki on May 19 at a press conference held in the Diet building announced the launch of a signature-collecting drive to protest against the move to legalize Japan's exercise of the right to collective self-defense. Yamashita stressed that the party will make an all-out effort to achieve success in the campaign in order to prevent the country from being turned into a war-fighting nation.