WSJ: Japan Approves Major Policy Shift to Ease Restrictions on Military

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July 2, 2014 by Water Wisdom

Japan Approves Major Policy Shift to Ease Restrictions on Military

The Japanese government on Tuesday approved a major shift in the country’s security policy that would ease restrictions on the military that have been in place since the years following World War II.

‘The state of the world surrounding Japan is growing increasingly severe. To prepare for every possible scenario, it is necessary to take seamless legislative measures so we can protect the lives and peace of our people,’ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said following a cabinet decision to ratify the new security policy.

Citing ‘fundamental changes’ in Japan’s security situation, Mr. Abe’s cabinet issued a reinterpretation of Japan’s constitution allowing the nation’s Self-Defense Forces to aid allies under attack.

The change would permit Japan to exercise the right of ‘collective self-defense,’ meaning the SDF could come to the aid of allies like the U.S. even if Japan itself isn’t attacked.

Mr. Abe and his aides have said the change would commit Japan to shouldering a heavier military burden in its alliance with the U.S. In one scenario, the change would allow Japan to shoot down ballistic missiles fired from North Korea at U.S. military bases in the western Pacific U.S. territory of Guam, even if Japan itself isn’t directly targeted.

Washington has welcomed the move, but the change has drawn suspicion from China and South Korea, which feel Japan has never atoned properly for its aggression during World War II.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman expressed concern over what the change might portend for regional stability.

‘It is only natural to wonder whether Japan is going to change the path of peaceful development it has been pursuing since World War II,’ spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily media briefing in Beijing.

South Korea, which also a close U.S. ally, was more guarded in its response.

‘Our government’s consistent stance is that any issues that affect the security of the Korean peninsula and national benefit in regard to Japan’s practice of right of collective self-defense cannot be approved without our request and agreement,’ foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-Il said.

Surveys also showed the Japanese public split on the issue. Polls taken by three Japanese national dailies in the past week–the Nikkei, the Mainichi and the Asahi–showed that at least half of respondents opposed the idea of Japan exercising its right to collective self-defense, with about a third or fewer in favor.

Mr. Abe had several reasons to push ahead quickly. One is that he still has political capital after the success of his pro-growth economic policies, or ‘Abenomics.’ He has also said he wants to revise U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines by the end of the year, meaning the new interpretation of the constitution should take effect soon to allow time for discussions with Washington.

Mr. Abe tried to expand the military’s role in his first stint as prime minister in 2006-07. But his push to amend the constitution met with strong opposition from liberals and distrust from the public, and he was forced to step down after a year. When he returned to power in December 2012, Mr. Abe proposed making it easier to change the constitution, but the initiative gathered little momentum.

Instead of taking on the nearly impossible task of altering a document that has remained untouched since it took effect in 1947, Mr. Abe changed course and said collective self-defense could be allowed through a constitutional reinterpretation.

That prompted a backlash from his party’s coalition partner, the New Komeito party, which called the reinterpretation premature and unnecessary. But Komeito leaders have retreated in recent days and suggested they are ready to go along with Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in endorsing the plan.

2014年 07月 02日 07:11
日本内阁批准解禁集体自卫权

European Pressphoto Agency
7月1日,东京,日本首相安倍晋三在首相官邸举行的新闻发布会上讲话。

 

本政府周二批准解禁集体自卫权,意味着二战后日本对本国军事力量施加限制的国家安全政策发生重大转变。

在内阁批准新的安全政策后,日本首相安倍晋三(Shinzo Abe)在新闻发布会上说,日本面对的世界形势日益严峻,为了应对可能发生的任何情况,有必要采取严密的立法措施,以保护日本国民的生命及和平的生活。

安倍内阁以日本安全形势发生“根本性变化”为由发布了对日本宪法的重新解读,允许日本自卫队援助受到攻击的盟友。

这一调整允许日本行使“集体自卫权”,意味着即使日本未受到攻击,日本自卫队仍可以援助美国等盟友。

安倍晋三和他的助手们表示,这一调整将使日本在与美国的同盟关系中承担更重的军事责任。例如,日本可以击落朝鲜向关岛美国军事基地发射的弹道导弹,即便该导弹并不直接针对日本。

日本的这一举措受到华盛顿的欢迎,但引发了中国和韩国的质疑。中韩认为日本对于二战期间的侵略行为从未诚心悔过。

中国外交部发言人洪磊对日本此举可能给地区稳定带来的影响表示关切。

他在北京召开的例行记者会上说:“人们不能不质疑日本是否要改变战后长期坚持的和平发展道路。”

韩国的回应则更为谨慎。韩国也是美国的一个亲密盟友。

韩国外交部发言人Noh Kwang-Il表示,韩国政府的一贯立场是:对于日本行使集体自卫权一事,在没有韩国的请求和同意的情况下,韩国不允许任何影响朝鲜半岛安全和韩国国家利益的事情发生。

调查也显示,日本民众对这一问题看法不一。日本三大全国性报纸──《日本经济新闻》(Nikkei)、《每日新闻》(Mainichi)和《朝日新闻》(Asahi)在过去一周开展的民调显示,至少一半的受访者对日本行使集体自卫权的想法持反对态度,持支持态度的受访者不超过三分之一。

安倍晋三迅速推进集体自卫权解禁有以下几点原因。首先,“安倍经济学”取得成功,他有政治资本。其次,他曾表示希望在年底前修改《日美防卫合作指针》,意味着他要尽快修改宪法解释以便给日美磋商留出时间。

在2006-2007年首次担任首相期间,安倍晋三曾试图扩大日本的军事影响力。但当时他的修宪努力遭到自由派的强烈反对,引发了民众的不信任,令他在执政一年后下台。在2012年12月份重新上台时,安倍提议为修宪创造更便利的条件,但这项倡议应者寥寥。

日本的和平宪法自1947年生效以来从未改动过,要修改它几乎不可能。安倍晋三改变了策略,称如果重新解释宪法就可以解禁集体自卫权。

这招致了安倍内阁的执政伙伴公明党(New Komeito)的抨击,后者称重新解释宪法时机不成熟,也没有必要。但近日公明党领袖放弃了原先立场,表示愿意与安倍晋三领导的自民党(Liberal Democratic Party)一起支持该计划。

Alexander Martin / Toko Sekiguchi

Alexander Martin / Toko Sekiguchi

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