Japan’s dangerous routeThe Japanese government has decided to fully discuss the introduction of a right to collective self-defense by reconvening the meeting on reestablishment of legal foundations for national security early next month. The consultative meeting - which started as a venue for finding justifications for more robust self-defense after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe first took office in 2006 - was temporarily suspended due to the upper house election campaign.
Collective self-defense refers to Japan’s right to counterattack when its allies are under attack by foreign countries. An attack on an ally is regarded as an attack against Japan. An act to invade other countries, even if it’s described as self-defense, is prohibited by Japan’s Constitution. Article 9 of the pacifist constitution states, “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 a means of settling international disputes.” Allowing collective self-defense while keeping the article intact is nothing but a constitutional revision or an abrogation of the constitution.
The Japanese government in the past attempted to reinterpret the article in question in its favor but had to stop it in the face of strong public resistance. Buoyed by the Liberal Democratic Party’s landslide victory in the upper house elections, however, the Abe cabinet will most likely push ahead with the argument for collective self-defense.
Japan claims that such self-defense will help support its allies and contribute to international peace. From the perspective of a country victimized by Japan’s aggression-prone imperialist past, it’s impossible to accept that justification. The LDP led by Abe has already vowed to establish a “normal” armed forces - with fewer constraints - and elevate the emperor to de facto head of state. Such moves constitute a brazen declaration to turn Japan into a military power. We wonder how such a weird turn can lead to friendly relations with any allies or the promotion of international peace.
The victory in the upper house elections was largely thanks to Abenomics. In other words, most Japanese want the government to pursue strong economic policies to overcome a two-decades-long slump rather than amend the constitution. Immediately after the elections, however, Tokyo rushes down a dangerous path. Japan’s return to nationalism and militarization can only deepen tensions and enmity in Asia and adversely affect the peace and chances of unification of the Korean Peninsula. We urge Japan to indulge in some deep soul searching to find the best possible way to world peace.