Almost a week after a special government panel submitted a report to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recommending Japan exercise its right to collective self-defense, the Japanese public still remains divided on its opinion on the matter. However, a special adviser to Abe said that the country has an “innate right” to defend itself, thus putting his support in pushing for the reinterpretation of the country’s pacifist postwar Constitution.
Speaking as a guest at CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box,” Tomohiko Taniguchi – special adviser to the Japanese premier – defended his stance on the issue of collective self-defense. “In this world no one nation – even the mightiest which is the U.S. – can defend itself alone, so you have to team up with other like-minded peers order to defend yourself.” Taniguchi’s statement is effectively defending why Japan must choose to exercise the right to collective self-defense. “What’s being discussed is something that every nation in the world has an innate right. For historical reasons it’s been only Japan that’s banned the Japanese armed forces from getting involved in collective actions,” Taniguchi added. However, not everyone in Japan seems convinced of this. Many critics of the Abe administration have expressed concerns that such action of re-interpreting Japan’s Constitution could bring back Japan’s militaristic past and could further increase the tensions felt in the region among neighboring countries. He countered the accusations saying, “If you look at the past reputation of Japan, this is the only country for the last seven years that has not shot a single bullet overseas, and that reputation is something that Shinzo Abe and any others in Japanese politics have taken very seriously.”
But with growing assertiveness of China, many wonder if Japan’s shift from a pacifist nation to a more active one could further incense Asia’s biggest nation. The two countries are embroiled in a bitter territorial dispute that saw Chinese coast guard vessels lurking on disputed waters more often in the past months. Taniguchi noted that for the right to be successfully exercised and not abused, Japan and other nations must have a “deterrence capacity” based on accepted norms and international law. He also said that he hopes the reinterpretation of Constitution to allow collective self-defense would be a unifying and peaceful factor between Japan and China.
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