Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe publicly pushed for the reinterpretation of Japan’s self-imposed postwar ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense in a nationally televised address on Thursday, saying that the country should allow its military to come to the aid of allies under attack. This action has been in Abe’s agenda since he took power in December 2012, and it now faces major legislative obstacles to put into movement a process that would mark a drastic shift in the way Japan uses its highly-trained and highly-professional military, known as the Self-Defense Forces.
Abe’s administration has been seeking to lift the ban on collective self-defense as a way to “strengthen deterrent force” in an increasingly unstable region that includes a very aggressive China and a nuclear-capable North Korea. “It is necessary to deepen cooperation with other countries so that we can seamlessly cope with any situation to protect our peaceful lives,” Abe said, adding that Japan’s peaceful posture would not change. If the collective self-defense is then allowed by law, Japan would be able to cooperate with ally the United States and would now be allowed – if needed – to help a U.S. vessel under attack on the high seas.
But it is the potential for expanded military involvement that is the fear of those who oppose the action, and is Abe’s major hurdle in pushing for the change in legislation. Memories of Japan’s militarism in the Second World War show the harm in the abuse of this way of thought. Protests have risen in the city’s capital, including a peaceful human chain around the Diet that called on the government to stop the “destruction of the Constitution.” Abe’s reputation as a hawkish and confrontational leader – seemingly leaning on playing down Japan’s wartime atrocities – also adds to the controversy in this issue. Around 63 percent of Japan’s public oppose the idea of reinterpreting the ban on collective self-defense, this according to a poll by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper last month.
[via The Washington Post]
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