Month: May 2014

Japan Restoration Party is to split

Two co-presidents of Japan Restoration Party had another round of talks in Nagoya on May 28. Shintaro Ishihara stated that he opposes the merge with Unity Party that is promoted by another co-president Toru Hashimoto, and proposed to split JRP. Hashimoto agreed. The party created in a view to be the third power center opposing both LDP and DPJ has split after one and a half years of being established.

Talks between Ishihara and Hashimoto were held one on one. Ishihara stated that there can be no merge with UP that opposes the sovereign constitution idea. Hashimoto understood that there is no way to change Ishihara’s opinion and agreed to split the party.

JRP has 62 men in Lower and Upper House. Of which 15 belong to Ishihara’s group of the former Sunrise Party.

Ishihara is to hold press conference explaining the details of the split on May 29.



Editorial – Partnership between Japan and Russia? – I don’t think so

Russian online news reported that PM Shinzo Abe “chose to side with Russia in order to put pressure on China” and that Putin’s visit to Japan this fall will take place notwithstanding the sanctions imposed by the US.

Well, it is always interesting to me when the foreign media pick up some info that is not a big thing in Japan at all.

On one hand, yes, Japan is interested in Russia freeing the occupied Northern Territories, and of course any government in Japan would continue dialog with any Russian government in order for it to happen. America has little interest in this problem, and in this case Japan will just pursue its national interests independent of the current relations between the US and Russia.

But on the other hand, there is nothing that shows that Japan will side with Russia even in order to put pressure on China. For one thing, Russia, which has just concluded a big gas supply contract with China has made its choice to be a mere supplier of raw materials to China for the thirty years to come. Russia can no longer make China angry. Then, Japan’s strategic partner is of course America, and for cooperation with America the right to exercise collective self-defense is now being debated.

Putin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula is exactly what China is trying to do in Asia – “change of the current situation by force”. This is absolutely unacceptable for Japan. So there can be no any tactic or strategic partnership between Japan and Russia.

by naokawa

Editorial – Time for Japan to grow up

If we exclude communists and socialists, the people who oppose the right to exercise collective self-defense do not want to leave Japan unprotected. They just want for the things to stay the same – so that America would continue to protect Japan as it always did and Japan will stay as a nonchalant child protected by the parents unaware and not caring about what is going on in this cruel world of adults – just playing in her favorite sandbox.

Indeed a childish way of thinking – let someone else to take care of their security. Such people just want for America to take all the burden so that it would continue with its role as world’s policeman while they can go about their own day-to-day business without even thinking that they are being protected by a third country.

One little problem is that America does not want to continue to be world’s policeman any longer. Its defense budget has been significantly cut, having discovered technology to obtain shale oil and gas within its own territory, America is no longer interested that much in the Middle East. American economy is growing and money starting to flow back into America. The same can be said about businesses – domestic energy supplies became available at reasonable prices for companies to go back where the qualified human resources are.

US is looking inwards now. Even with Obama’s ‘power shift’ towards Asia it can be hardly imagined that America will be involved in Asia as closely as it was involved with Middle East. This means that it is a must for Japan to grow up and take care of its security by itself. The first step towards this is approval for the right to exercise collective self-defense.

by naokawa

Another provocation by Chinese planes

Yesterday Chinese airforces scrambled when Japan’s reconnaissance aircrafts entered the so-called air defense identification zone set unilaterally by China. Japan’s Defense Ministry stated that Chinese SU-27 tailed Japanese aircraft and then approached it to the distance of 50 meters. Then in an hour Chinese fighter approached Japanese reconnaissance plane to the distance of 30 meters.

Defense Ministry states that this is the first time Chinese planes approached Japanese planes to the distance of less than 100 meters. Chinese fighters did not try to establish radio contact.

It is said that Japanese reconnaissance planes were not damaged in the result of the incident.

Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Omodera stated that this close approach was very dangerous and could have serious consequences. This Japan’s position was relayed to China. Omodera mentioned that it is necessary to hold talks between Japan and China on safety on sea and in the air.


Talks between Hashimoto and Ishihara – “No breakup”

Yesterday two co-presidents of the Japan Restoration Party Toru Hashimoto and Shintaro Ishihara met in Nagoya [nkw: a city almost in between of Tokyo and Osaka] and discussed merging with Unity Party.

It is known that Hashimoto was always in favor of merge even at expense of changing JRP basic principles. On the other hand, Ishihara was opposing it claiming that JRP cannot have anything in common with UP that favors the current Constitution.

Now, Hashimoto managed to persuade Ishihara, but Ishihara reinstated that the establishment of a new sovereign constitution is to be included into the common policy of JRP and UP. Speaking to journalists after the meeting Ishihara said: “We had a very good talk. There is no breakup” underlining that the talks were not broken off.

The talks at a Nagoya hotel lasted for two and a half hours, secretary-general Ichiro Matsui and general council chairman of parliamentary fraction Takao Fujii were also present.

According to people close to the talks Ishihara stated that he was not totally opposing merging with UP, however, unless the agreement is reached on three issues of sovereign constitution, right for collective self-defense and nuclear power, the merge cannot happen. Hashimoto replied that he understood Ishihara’s position.

Hashimoto during press conference at the Osaka city council that took place before the meeting showed resolution to persuade Ishihara: “Changing the current Constitution and creating one by ourselves also means establishing sovereign constitution. If it is not renouncing of the Constitution we can agree”.

On the afternoon of May 21 policy chiefs Hitoshi Asada of JRP and Mito Kakizawa of UP had talks in Tokyo. Regarding the Constitution Asada presented two proposals joining the policies of both parties: “governing system reform via constitution revision” and “governing system reform via the process of constitution revision and establishing sovereign constitution”. Kakizawa gave an official answer that “establishing sovereign constitution” is unacceptable.

by naokawa and source

The right for collective self-defense – “no deadline” for the consultations

The president of New Komeito party Natsuo Yamaguchi on press conference on the morning of May 20 commented on the consultations between LDP and Komeito regarding approval of the right to exercise collective self-defense: “There is no any deadline. It is important that people would understand what is going on”.

Earlier, chairman of the committee for the promotion of constitutional reform Hajime Funada of LDP spoke about approving the right via the Constitution interpretation: “I believe it would be proper to dissolve the Lower House and ask the voters what they think”. Speaking of which Yamaguchi rebuked: “There were no any discussions yet, and we have not offered anything to our people. So this topic should not be on the agenda”.


Editorial – right to exercise collective self-defense – consultations within the ruling coalition to begin today

Today consultations between LDP and New Komeito are to be started regarding the right to exercise collective self-defense and national security policies review. PM Shinzo Abe following the decision of the board of advisers, insists that the right to exercise collective self-defense should be approved by changing the interpretation of Constitution. Komeito is as wary as ever.

It is said that the parties will start with clarifying the so-called “gray zones” in the existing security laws, for which the right to individual self-defense can be applied. Since changes in interpretation of Constitution are not needed in this case Komeito is likely to be more cooperative.

However, the approaches of LDP and Komeito, the two parties forming the ruling coalition, to the interpretation of Constitution are very different and the gap is not likely to be easily filled. PM Abe has already made significant steps to secure Komeito support by stressing the ‘limited’ application for the right to exercise collective self-defense, though no geographical restrictions were mentioned. Another point of compromise was that PM Abe during his press-conference last Friday stated that the government will not adopt the view of the board of advisers, which explicitly specified that under the current Constitution Japan is allowed to participate in military multinational coalitions under the UN orders.

Still this was not enough for Komeito. It looks like they are set to include geographical restrictions so that the right to exercise collective self-defense would only be applied in the vicinity of Japan’s territorial waters.

But thinking about it, Japan’s interests can lie well beyond the territorial waters. For example, 90% crude oil consumed in Japan is being imported from Persian Gulf, thus should some emergency situation occur there, this would immediately constitute an economic threat to Japan. That is why geographical restrictions were not mentioned either in the report of board of advisers, or in government’s view on JSDF deployment.

Some analytics believe that these disagreements between LDP and Komeito may even threaten existence of the ruling coalition and mention that PM Abe might dissolve the Lower House this fall in order to “ask for people’ opinion” on the issue. Current LDP’s poll ratings are quite high, whereas opposition parties are still in the process of restructuring, so it is expected that LDP and Komeito are to win the elections. And if LDP’s positions are to become stronger as a result, this could make Komeito to be more cooperative.

by naokawa

Board of advisers requests for the right to exercise collective self-defense to be approved

Board of advisers for the government “Conference for reviewing legal infrastructure concerning security” on a meeting of May 15 in the afternoon summed up its report and submitted it to PM Shinzo Abe. Report says that the “use for force” for self-defense prohibited by Article 9 of the Constitution does not apply to the cases of self-defense, and requested that the interpretation of this article is to be changed to include the right to exercise collective self-defense into the definition of “measures for self-defense at minimum necessary level”. Regarding Japan participating in UN collective security measures that include military measures the report says that “Constitution does not restrict it”.

Furthermore, the report brought up six new cases concerning the “gray zone” situations with regards to the right for collective self-defense and security measures.

The report also comments on the history of changes in interpretation of the right for self-defense by the government. Report also mentions Supreme court decision of 1959 (“Sunagawa case decision”), which acknowledges Japan’s right for self-defense. At the same time the report raises concerns that there were no changes in constitution interpretation since the official government response of 1981, which states that “the right for collective self-defense exceeds the minimum necessary level and this unconstitutional”. The report points out that “if in spite of big changes in security environment, security policy in constitutional debates is to stay rigid, people’s security may be undermined”.

The report states the following conditions for execution of the right for collective self-defense:
1. Military attack on a country Japan has close relationship with;
2. Crucial impact for national security
3. Explicit request from the country concerned
The report stipulates that parliament’s approval, National Security Council deliberations
based on PM’s proposal and cabinet decision are mandatory.

About collective security and participation in multinational military coalitions the report says: “when our country takes part in resolving international military conflict, this would not constitute use of force” and states that this is the “right interpretation”. The report ascertains that Japan is allowed to participate UN collective security that include military measures.


Right to exercise collective self-defense – What is to change – Part 3/3

Collection of cases about exercising the right for collective self-defense, part 3. Here is part 1 and part 2.

Current interpretation of article 9 of the Constitution, which prohibits “use of force” not only affects the right to exercise collective self-defense, but also limits participation of JSDF in the international activities. Striving for approval of change of Constitution interpretation that would include the right to exercise collective self-defense the government states in the collection of cases: “international community expects us to actively participate, but due to the current interpretation of Constitution we cannot fully contribute to international peace and stability.”

Case 6 Rush to protect
Case 7 Use of weapons while on a mission

Act on Cooperation in the U.N. Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) was created in 1992 and JSDF could participate in the PKO in Cambodia and the East Timor. Now JSDF are deployed in South Sudan. Government wants to actively participate in PKO.

“JSDF troops participate in PKO. In a remote region civilians participating in PKO (officials) are being attacked by an armed group. Or troops of another country are being attacked by an armed group and requested help from JSDF.”

In the collection of cases this case is called “rush to protect”. Presently JSDF will not be allowed by law to respond to such requests.

While executing “rush to protect” it will be necessary “to use weapons while carrying out one’s duties”. In the collection of cases the following case is brought up.

“JSDF troops participating in PKO are out for emergency transportation of a wounded non-governmental organization (NGO) official. However, an armed group is preventing this.”

In this case JSDF also will not be able to fight the armed group and will have to give up on the mission. Use of weapons is allowed only for the case of “legitimate self-defense”.

If a criminal organization directly attacks JSDF troops this would constitute “execution of police authority” and “legitimate self-defense”, so weapons can be used in this case. However, if the armed group interfering the operation is “a country or an organization that belongs to a country”, this would constitute “use of force” and thus prohibited by article 9. But it is difficult to determine if the armed group is “a country or an organization that belongs to a country” and PKO cooperation law standards on use of weapons do not state that the mission must be executed.

As a way out of such a situation the collection of cases mentions: “It is important to create such situation when ‘a country or an organization that belongs to a country’ will not be involved”.

Government official explains that “if we limit the cases to ones when the country where JSDF are to be deployed agrees to such deployment and “a country or an organization that belongs to a country” will not appear in vicinity, JSDF will not need to resort to use of weapons and restriction on ‘use of force’ will not be violated”.

Case 8 Rescue of Japanese nationals residing abroad

“Lives of Japanese nationals residing abroad are endangered by a terrorist organization. They ask for protection, but government of the country of residence has limited rescue capabilities. The country of residence communicated to Japan that it agrees for JSDF to execute rescue operation”.

This case supposes that the country where Japanese nationals are being exposed to terrorist threat agrees for JSDF to perform rescue operations. Government official comments it is because “an armed conflict is more likely to occur when we are trying to rescue our citizens”.

An example of such case may be an hostage-taking incident in Algeria in January last year when ten Japanese nationals have been killed. Standards on use of weapons by JSDF stipulate that after the rescue of Japanese nationals weapons can only be used in unforeseen situations of “legitimate self-defense” and “emergency evacuation”. At that time government gave up on deploying JSDF troops.

Lesson learned from the incident – the government revised Self-Defense Forces Act in November last year and made it possible for JSDF to transport Japanese nationals residing abroad by land. Also a new policy that removes restrictions on JSDF personnel to carry weapons during such transport operations was implemented. However the standards on use of weapons are still limited to legitimate self-defense situations and such.

In the collection of cases government argues: “Is it ok that we will not be able to protect lives of our citizens? Should we not allow JSDF to execute their mission and also allow use of weapons?”. Still Komeito was wary about easing the standards on use of weapons when Self-Defense Forces Act was amended after the hostage-taking incident.

Case 9 Assistance in counter-invasion measures

“In certain region local invasion took place. Following the decision of UN Security Council a multinational military coalition is organized. Our country deploys JSDF to support operations in parts that will not constitute ‘use of force’.”

This case falls within “collective security” when several countries form a coalition against aggressor country under UN resolution in order to reinstate sovereignty of a country suffering from invasion. Such “military coalition” was formed in 1991 during the Gulf War and in 2003 during Iraq War.

This case is about a potential emergency situation on the Korean peninsula.

In the collection of cases a rule “in parts that will not constitute ‘use of force'” is in place. JSDF is not to be fighting the aggressor country directly, but rather provide “logistic support” for the coalition.

According to Act Concerning the Measures for Peace and Safety of Japan in Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan, JSDF is allowed to provide water and provisions, perform transportation operations and execute medical assistance. However, transportation of troops, weapons and ammunition is ruled out as “being equal to the use of force”. In January this year there was a request from UN to the JSDF participating in PKO in South Sudan to transport military personnel and weapons. But our government has refused on the grounds that there is a probability that such action would “be equal to the use of force against another country” and thus contradict the accepted Constitution interpretation.

In the collection of cases it is mentioned that “there is limitation that we can only participate in support operations that will not constitute ‘use of force’. And it will be difficult for our country to efficiently act as a member of military coalition”. Thus it is stated that “we need to have clear criteria on what is considered to ‘be equal to the use of force'”.

It is expected that down the road the definition of logistic support will have to be reviewed to include expanding Japan’s activities to such areas as supplying weapons, ammunition, medical services to the countries engaged in military conflict.

it will have to be decided what the definition of logistic support is, and whether it includes supplying weapons, ammunition, medical services to the countries engaged in military conflict, and how Japan can expand its activities.

This series of publications have been prepared by Dr.Oda.


Right to exercise collective self-defense – What is to change – Part 2/3

Collection of cases about exercising the right for collective self-defense, part 2. Here is part 1.

Case 4 Illegal activities in the remote islands

“An armed group thought to be foreigners disembark illegally on a remote island, which is Japan’s territory. There is no police on the island. Japan Coast Guard has hard times to act quick.”

This case in the collection of cases made by the government hints us at Chinese armed “fishermen” disembarking on the Senkaku Islands (Okinawa pref., Ishigaki-shi). This does not constitute military invasion or the state of emergency. It is a so-called “gray zone”.

First to maintain security of territory and territorial waters police organization and the coast guard take action. If they experience military attack from another country, or there is a big risk of such an attack, JSDF exercising the right of self-defense will execute “defense dispatch”.

However, in the above case there is no certainty about military attack and the grounds for the defense dispatch are not clear. Of course, if the situation would be deemed to be out of control of police and the coast guard JSDF, on the grounds of the executing police authority, would be able to mobilize for “public security operation” and “defensive action on the seas”.

But even in this case it is for the Prime Minister or Defense Minister to issue the order. And each of those requires cabinet approval. While all these procedures are taking place there is probability that the situation would escalate. Also the use of weapons in this case is more limited than in case of “defense dispatch”.

In March 1999 when a suspicious vessel intruded the vicinity of Noto peninsula it was the first time when JSDF was mobilized for “defensive action on the seas”. But the patrol vessel of coast guard and the escort ship of JSDF that pursued the suspicious ship could not apprehend it. The problem was in the slow initial response and restrictions on use of weapons.

Case 5 Illegal activities in international waters

It is not hard to imagine that a similar case can happen in open sea.

“JSDF fleet is conducting training or warning and surveillance activities in international waters and witnessing Japan’s civilian ship being subjected to illegal activities from the ship of another country (an armed group). This the situation is developing far from the coastal line coast guard has hard time responding in timely manner. But JSDF ships are able to handle the situation.”

It would take time for JSDF to take up “public security operation” and “defensive action on the seas”. During this time JSDF has no choice but to stand by and watch the illegal activities to take place.

In September 2010 in the vicinity of Senkaku Islands a Chinese fishing boat clashed into a patrol vessel of coast guard. Surely there is a probability that Japan’s civilian vessel could encounter the same situation.

Government commenting on “Illegal activities in the remote islands” and “Illegal activities in international waters” points out this: “In order to enable JSDF to act promptly the procedures to give out orders and JSDF officials’ authority should be revised”.

Members of the board of advisers for the government “Conference for restructuring of legal infrastructure for security preservation” during February meeting mentioned: “Execution of defensive action on the seas is not sufficient”, “In order to make it possible to exercise the right for individual self-defense we need to accept that continuous territory infringements that cannot be constituted as military attack should be handled as such (as an emergency situation)”. Many members argued that conditions for defense dispatch should be eased.

Handling the ‘gray zone’ situations fall within the police authority and the right to exercise individual self-defense, thus change in interpretation of Constitution is not needed. That is why Komeito, which is very cautious about exercising the right for collective self-defense, is positive about fixing up the legal base here. The key point from now on will be not only about easing regulations on defensive action on the seas and public security operation but also about reviewing the rules for armed response when dealing with illegal activities.