Shii calls for retraction of Cabinet decision enabling Japan to use collective self-defense right

July 1, 2014

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on July 1 issued a statement calling on the Abe Cabinet to retract its decision which paves the way for Japan to be capable of using the right to collective self-defense.

The full text of the statement is as follows:

The Abe Cabinet on July 1, in defiance of the protest of the majority of the public, forcibly made a decision focusing on permitting Japan's exercise of the right to collective self-defense, which parallels a constitutional revision through new interpretations.

The Cabinet decision reverses the traditional government position that Article 9 of the Constitution prohibits Japan from using armed force abroad, and will pave the way for a nation fighting wars abroad.

Such a drastic change in government position is tantamount to constitutional revision. The Abe Cabinet steamrollered this change through just with its decision after closed-door negotiations between the ruling parties. This act totally denies the very essence of constitutionalism.

The JCP strongly protests against this historically outrageous behavior which undermines Article 9.

The Cabinet decision is designed to facilitate the Abe government's attempt to change Japan to a war-fighting nation in two ways.

The first way is to dispatch the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to battlefields under the pretext of furthering its contribution to the peace and stability of the international community when the United States launches a war like its retaliatory war against Afghanistan and its invasion of Iraq. To that end, the government intends to release the brakes on the SDF using weapons and entering combat areas which are now prohibited in the existing law on any SDF dispatch overseas.

The Cabinet decision intends to abolish the current legal framework which limits areas of SDF activities to "rear-areas" and "non-combat zones". It will allow the SDF to engage in support activities even in areas conventionally recognized as "combat areas". Activities in war zones will inevitably expose SDF personnel to enemy attacks evoking counterattacks by SDF troops, which means that the SDF will exercise armed force. What will occur can be seen in the fact that NATO member nations, which exercised their collective self-defense right and joined the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, have suffered huge numbers of casualties.

The second way is to open the door to Japan's use of the collective self-defense right with the pretext that using the right is a permissive self-defense response under Article 9.

Indicating new three conditions on the use of armed force as a self-defense measure, the Cabinet decision explains that even if Japan is not under attack, it can exercise the right to collective self-defense in the event that the nation faces a danger which threatens the nation's very basis and violates people's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Cabinet decision argues that this explanation is a logical conclusion derived from the underlying logic in the conventional view successive governments have had. This is a totally shameless argument. The successive governments' view regarding Article 9 has been structured upon the principle banning the use of armed force abroad.

The Cabinet quotes in the decision an official statement a previous government issued in 1972. However, this statement itself rested on the principle that successive governments have had, leading to the logical conclusion that the use of the right to collective self-defense is impermissible in light of the Constitution. The Cabinet decision could overturn this principle rather than stay within the range of conventional underlying logic. This obviously amounts to constitutional reinterpretation, which is extremely outrageous.

Regarding the Cabinet decision, the government and the ruling parties insist that they will permit the use of that right only to a limited extent. This is a malicious trick. Who determines if there is an obvious danger or not is the government of the day. Although the decision states that the use of the right to collective self-defense will be very limited, if the government has the liberty of deciding, the scope of the use of force abroad can expand without limits. The government claims that Japan will resort to the use of force to the minimum degree necessary. However, once Japan goes ahead and uses armed force abroad, it could be subject to counterattacks from enemy forces and could inevitably get bogged down in a bottomless quagmire of war without end. Judging from the nature of collective self-defense itself, there can be no such thing as a minimum necessary collective self-defense right.

Furthermore, regarding Japan's collective security, the government says that use of force will constitutionally be tolerable if three conditions are met.

If Japan's use of force abroad becomes possible in the name of the collective self-defense right and in collective security, it will mean that nothing is banned under Article 9. It will be a vicious act equivalent to trampling on and virtually deleting Article 9 which calls for the renunciation of war, non-possession of war potential, and denial of the right to belligerency.

To push ahead with such an endless use of force overseas as self-defense measures closely resembles the prewar militarist Japan which waged a war of aggression in the name of Japan's self-existence and self-defense, which is totally unacceptable.

Seeking to build a nation capable of fighting wars abroad, the Cabinet decision will totally change the way postwar Japan has been up until now.

The SDF was founded 60 years ago in violation of Article 9 which stipulates, "[L]and, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained." Over these 60 years, the SDF has neither killed anyone in other countries nor been killed in action. This is because Japan has Article 9 which functions as constitutional brakes prohibiting Japan's use of force abroad.

The Cabinet decision denies how postwar Japan has been until now and turns Japan into a nation willing to kill and to be killed. It will never protect the country and its people. It will instead force young Japanese to shed blood for the sake of U.S. wars and, together with the United States, point a gun at people of other countries. What Japan will lose in doing so is immeasurable.

The government seeks to effectively revise the Constitution through new interpretations with a single cabinet decision. Such a move is a brutal denial of constitutionalism.

The government in a Cabinet decision dated June 18, 2004 clarified its position regarding its interpretation of the Constitution and the relationship between the supreme law and the collective self-defense right.

It stated that its constitutional interpretation came about as a result of logical pursuits, and therefore judging from the nature of the interpretation, those in power cannot change it at their will. It said, if the government reinterprets the Constitution arbitrarily, it could undermine the public trust in the government's constitutional interpretation as well as the Constitution itself.

The administration at that time in 2004 also stated that when disputes over the Constitution exist, the government should resolve the disputes by squarely initiating public debate on constitutional revision rather than making changes in constitutional interpretation. This is a rational argument.

The Cabinet decision this time has nothing to do with logic and approves constitutional reinterpretation which the past administration prohibited in the 2004 Cabinet decision.

It is an undeniable fact that there are conflicting views among the general public over the issue of the collective self-defense right. Given this situation, to make an arbitrary change in constitutional interpretation totally runs counter to the past Cabinet decision.

In the first place, the conventional government position that the Constitution bans the use of the right to collective self-defense has taken root in the country through half-a-century-long discussions in the Diet. It is not something that the government suddenly announced. The government is attempting to impose its will with a single cabinet decision after closed-door meetings of the ruling coalition without holding Diet discussions or listening to public opinion and criticism. This act can be called a coup against the supreme law. The JCP denounces this act.

Despite the Abe Cabinet's forcible decision, it will not give the government a free hand to mobilize the SDF. Our struggles have just begun.

The JCP strongly demands that the government retract the unconstitutional Cabinet decision.

The government move to give shape to the decision and enact legislation to enable Japan to engage in wars abroad violates the Constitution. This is totally unacceptable.

Regarding the issue of war and peace, Japan is at a critical turning point in its post-war history. The outcome of this struggle will be determined by public opinion and citizens' movements. Let's work together to rally the voices of rational citizens opposing the adverse move to destroy Article 9 of the Constitution, a national treasure that Japan is proud of. In order to launch a nationwide united struggle of an unprecedented scale on this single issue of blocking government attempts to create a nation fighting wars abroad and undermine the Constitution by reinterpretation and defeat the Abe government desire to restore militarism, the JCP sincerely calls on the public to join a major joint struggle.

The Central Committee of the Japanese Communist Party
4-26-7 Sendagaya,Shibuya-ku,Tokyo 151-8586