Japan’s right of collective self-defence versus its commitment to pacifism

(VOVworld)- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently proposed the Japanese government re-examine constitutional constraints on Japan’s Self-Defense Forces’ overseas operations. Mr. Abe is undertaking measures to exercise Japan’s right of collective self-defense, despite Tokyo’s commitment to peace and his ideas have stirred up controversy.

Japan’s right of collective self-defence versus its commitment to pacifism - ảnh 1

Abe’s request was made after a Security Consultancy Committee recommended a re-examination of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise collective self-defense. If it is permitted, Japan can deploy its forces to help any country that has close relationship with Japan counter any attack. On May 21, Abe appointed a Cabinet Minister in charge of legal revisions to lift the self-defense ban by the end of August. This special Minister is tasked with explaining the government’s stance on this controversial issue to the Diet.

Non-exercisable right

Abe believes Japan has the right of collective self-defense but can’t exercise it due to limitations imposed in Article 9 of the Constitution, which bans the use of force to resolve international disputes. Therefore, to change national defense policies, Abe needs to change the interpretation of the Constitution. Abe’s allies in the New Komeito Party are not in agreement.

According to Abe, under the current interpretation of the Constitution, Japan cannot protect its citizens. For example, a US naval ship carrying Japanese citizens was attacked while it was sailing in an area of conflict outside Japan. According to the current interpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution, Abe says, Japan’s self- defense force is not allowed to use force unless it is attacked. Therefore, Japan could not mobilize its self-defense force to rescue the US ship even though it was carrying Japanese citizens.

Controversial decision

Countries around the world reacted quickly to Abe’s request. Washington welcomed and supported the idea of Japan lifting its ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense. The US has been urging Japan to contribute more to their security alliance. The US Secretary of Defense praised the notion and said he believes will continue its tradition of respecting peace. China expressed deep concern and asked Tokyo to review the history of its role in building peace and stability in the region. The Republic of Korea said Japan’s security and defense should be based on the peaceful spirit of its pacifist Constitution. Seoul said it will not accept any threats to the security of Korea or its national interests. Some Japanese people also oppose Abe’s intentions. About 2,000 people marched to protest any exercise of the right of collective self-defense.

Moving toward proactive pacifism

Analysts say that Abe’s request is part of his “Proactive Pacifism”, a plan, which involves loosening military regulations under the current Constitution to widen Japan’s role in regional and global security.

Recent conflicts in northeast and southeast Asia and the emerging strength of China, which has direct territorial disputes with Japan, are considered the main factors motivating Abe to discuss the right of collective self defense. Abe insisted he is committed to pacifism and only wants to strengthen Japan’s right of self-defense capacity. Observers say removing restrictions on collective self-defense would allow Japan to correct the balance of power in the Asia Pacific region.