A government panel that is reviewing Japan’s defense and military capabilities is set to suggest that the country should allow its military to help allies that are under attack – a major reversal of the country’s post-war ban on collective self-defense. The panel said on Tuesday that Japan can still improve on its defense capabilities and that it will be presenting its recommendation draft in the coming weeks.
The group’s final report is expected around late April, and it is expected that the recommendations there will match with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire for Japan to play a greater role in international peacekeeping as well as step up its defensive posture, looking to potential military threats from China and North Korea. The government panel is headed by former Ambassador to the United States Shunji Yanai, and there is a general consensus that the revision may be possible, but only if the Japanese government changes its current interpretation of the pacifist constitution. Constitutional change is high on Abe’s agenda, but that also involves tackling very difficult obstacles.
The pacifist constitution, written under direction from the U.S. government after World War II, declares that the Japanese people will “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation” and that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” The Japanese government is currently interpreting that clause to mean that Japan cannot possess any offensive military weaponry. Abe has mounted a firm challenge to this interpretation, saying that the restrictions should be removed completely from the military, as Japan’s current self-defense-only policy is inadequate to deal with the region’s challenging security environment. “Japan’s preparation for national security threats in the region is not sufficient,” Abe said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We must cover all the bases to protect the people’s lives and safety in any possible scenario.”
[via ABC News]