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
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