Thursday, October 26, 2006

Japan's new interpretation of the right of collective defence

According to a 1981 ruling of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau (CLB), a group of scholars who advise the prime minister on the constitutionality of laws and policy in a Supreme Court-like fashion, for Japan to assist U.S. forces would be an act of "collective self-defense." The CLB argues that while Tokyo possesses the inherent right to collective self-defense as a sovereign state, Article 9 of the postwar "Peace Constitution" prohibits the country from exercising it.

Today, the prohibition means that if North Korea were to launch a missile over Japanese territory toward Guam, it is not clear that Tokyo could intercept the

warhead. If the missile were targeted at the American
homeland, and thus on a flight path that
avoided Japan's airspace, almost any response would be unconstitutional. If the SDF did respond, it would be doing in violation of the constitution, thus making a mockery of Japan's status as an advanced, liberal democracy.

Speaking before Japan's Diet last week, Minister of State for Defense Fumio Kyuma announced that he could not clearly distinguish between the notions of "individual self-defense" and "collective self-defense" when Japan is conducting operations with the United States. Kyuma used a common sense analogy--asking if two friends walking together would not fight together if one was attacked by criminal--to launch a quiet revolution in Japan's security policy.

Kyuma's statement has been interpreted to mean that the Maritime Self-Defense Forces will create an "operational exception" to the ban on collective self-defense. The consequences of this shift are tremendous--the prohibition on collective self-defense is one of the final barriers that have prevented Tokyo from taking its rightful place as a "normal country" that carries a full share of responsibility for security in Asia and the worldChristopher Griffin

An interesting turn.
For those who are not familiar with the issue.
The article 9 says:
Article 9:
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

According to the government's interpretation,
1) says that we abandon the war ,declared or nor, as a means to invading other nations.
2) says that we abandon the war potential which exceed the purpose of self defence.
we have (inherent) right to self-defence.
It has been argued that since collective self-defence can mean the defence of other nations, it is not self-defence, and hence, it is prohibited. Kyuma's interpretation is a break-through to this interpretation.

BTW. Mainstream lawyers interpret the article as saying that we abandon all the war potential, self-defence or not.

No comments: