Japanese PM reconvenes panel on collective self-defense debate

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-9-17 22:52:49

Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe on Tuesday reconvened a panel of experts to continue discussions on lifting the nation's self-imposed constitutional ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense.

Abe told the panel that Japan needs to take a more active role in global and regional security issues and the role of the nation's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) should be reviewed in the interests of global and regional security along the lines of "active pacifism," local media said.

Abe also stated that there has been a shift in the security environment in East Asia in recent years and claimed that the situation is becoming more "severe."

Citing a geopolitical shift in the Asia Pacific region, Abe remarked that Japan needs to consider how it interprets its current constitution and the roles the SDF could potentially play in United Nation-led security operations.

Under Japan's current constitution, Japan is prohibited from using force to settle international disputes, but Abe is ultimately seeking to have the war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution changed to strengthen the SDF's powers to defend what Japan considers to be its own territories and its allies, both at home and abroad.

The 14-member panel traversed issues of SDF personnel being dispatched overseas in the event Japan's interests or its allies came under attack and which countries it would defend under such circumstances.

Abe is also bringing the Ministry of Defense's protocols under review, particularly its maritime directives, the reports stated, as part of a broader plan to create a US style National Security Council.

Following talks being shelved on lifting the ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense for seven months, Abe's administration is now looking to its New Komeito coalition ally for support on revising the decades-old constitutional interpretation.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, the leader of the New Komeito Party, is pushing for Abe's administration to first gain the trust of its East Asian neighbors and allay US fears about an escalating maritime standoff over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Yamaguchi, whose party will need to approve any legislative changes surrounding Japan's interpretation of its constitution, is pushing for multiple channels of communication to be reopened between senior politicians on both sides of Japan's ongoing territorial disputes, in the interests of resolving or assuaging the conflict.

Abe is also facing another potential logjam from the Japanese public, the majority of whom stand opposed to constitutional reform.

A recent nationwide poll conducted by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper showed that 54 percent of the public surveyed opposed the idea of collective self-defense, compared to 32 percent of people who are in favor of it.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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