Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested Tuesday that Japan should amend the Constitution so as to give the nation power to fully exercise the right to collective self-defense.
Referring to a draft revised constitution presented by his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in April 2012, Abe said the draft is based on the view that Japan “can exercise the right, as guaranteed by international law, to firmly safeguard the lives of the Japanese people.”
Abe was responding to a question by a Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker in a Diet session regarding whether the premier thinks the government should enable the Self-Defense Forces to exercise every right to self-defense, including collectively and individually.
In September last year, Abe’s ruling coalition pushed through the Diet controversial bills that now effectuate a Cabinet decision in July 2014 that year to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense under strict conditions, such as Japan’s survival coming under threat.
Before the legislation, Japan’s previous governments maintained a self-imposed ban on collective self-defense. But after the passing of the new laws, the SDF can now defend the United States or other friendly nations under armed attack when Japan faces “a situation that threatens its survival.”
The legislation limits Japan’s exercising of the right to collective self-defense to cases such as contingencies on the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea poses a threat to the region with its missile and nuclear weapons development, and in the East China Sea where Tokyo is embroiled in a dispute with Beijing over a group of uninhabited islets.
Abe has called for increased public debate about amending the Constitution, saying it will be one of the issues to be highlighted during campaigns for a House of Councillors election this summer.
Specifically, he calls for revising the second paragraph of the war-renouncing Article 9, saying there is a contradiction between the existence of the SDF and a ban on Japan maintaining armed forces.
The second paragraph of the article says, “Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”
The current Constitution has not been altered since its promulgation in November 1946.