Japan seeks to exercise ‘collective self-defense’

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Japan seeks to exercise ‘collective self-defense’


Japan’s state-run broadcaster NHK reported yesterday that a panel under the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office has released a report encouraging the country to reinterpret its Constitution to allow it the right to exercise “collective self-defense.”

The report is expected to be delivered to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda today for review.

“The panel studying Japan’s vision for the future says Japanese people should be able to work with flexibility in line with their skills and environment, and create new values,” NHK said, and in particular, “on security policy, the report urges a more active form of pacifism.”

“It [the report] says Japan must raise its value as a partner in enhancing security cooperation with the United States and other allies and it seeks to promote security ties through a review of conventional interpretations of the Constitution, with regard to Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense,” it said.

Collective self-defense lawfully allows a third country to use armed forces directly against a random country that is attacking its ally or close nation, even if the third country hasn’t been attacked. The act itself goes against Japan’s so-called Peace Constitution that renounces war and the threat or use of force to settle international disputes as mentioned in Article 9.

The report put together by the panel, however, proposes a need to reinterpret the Article and allow the country to exercise collective self-defense.

The report is triggering concerns on the Korean Peninsula, as well as other nearby countries, that giving Japan the right to legally exercise force would eventually pave the way for the country to become a military power.

Also last month, the upper house of Japan’s Diet passed an amendment to the country’s Atomic Energy Basic Law to allow the use of nuclear power for “national security.”

Speculations have risen ever since that the move would act as a threat to regional security in Northeast Asia, including Korea, and could also lead Japan to build nuclear weapons.

It was the first time in 34 years that the law has been revised. Previously, the law has limited the use of atomic energy to peaceful purposes only.

“The Korean government is observing Japan’s move closely,” said Han Hye-jin, deputy spokeswoman at Seoul’s foreign ministry, yesterday, referring to the NHK report.

“We will announce follow ups to whether or not the Korean government will take counter measures to this after an internal review.”

Han did say, however, that Japan’s move toward allowing collective self-defense has only been expressed through a panel’s report and isn’t the Japanese government’s official view.

The panel’s report comes at a time when controversial matters, including the postponement of the military intelligence-sharing deal and a Japanese activist posting a stake next to the Peace Monument in Seoul, have turned Korea-Japan relations awkward as of late.
By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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