In a move that has triggered a backlash at home and from neighboring countries, the Shinzo Abe administration has come up with a final draft of a reinterpretation of its pacifist Constitution to make it possible to exercise its right to collective self-defense, Japanese media said Friday.
The decision will mark a major shift in Tokyo’s exclusively defensive postwar security policy by allowing it to use force to defend its allies under attack. Article 9 of the constitution bans the country from waging war and possessing related equipment.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet is expected to endorse the decision as early as next Tuesday after consulting on the language of the document with the New Komeito Party, the coalition partner of his Liberal Democratic Party.
In the document, Japan reportedly pledged to remain committed to an exclusively defense-oriented policy and contribute to global peace and stability as a “pacifist state.”
“Japan will not become a military power and will stick to its non-nuclear principles,” Kyodo News reported, citing a copy of the draft, adding it will pursue “robust diplomacy to stem the emergence of threats, uphold the rule of law and avert conflicts.”
The statements reflect widespread concerns that the decision would allow for a return of the Japanese militarism of the early 20th century, which still haunts the two Koreas, China and other Asian countries. Washington, however, has been supporting Tokyo’s push for a “normal state” in the face of economic woes and budget constraints.
Even the two ruling parties had been at odds over the scope of the envisioned right to collective self-defense, though New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi expressed his willingness to accept the LDP’s proposal on Thursday.
The report came after Abe’s private security advisory panel submitted a report detailing a series of scenarios for collective self-defense including a U.S. warship under attack on the high seas, interception of a ballistic missile heading toward the U.S. and inspection of a foreign vessel in a contingency in areas close to Japan.
The panel also enumerated six requirements for the exercise of the right, including when a country with “close ties” with Japan is under attack, when Japan’s security is threatened if force is not used and when a country under attack explicitly calls for support.
The other requirements are when the premier decides to use force, when the Diet approves the premier’s decision and when Tokyo secures permission from a third country for its forces to pass through the country’s territory.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)