Stars and Stripes online edition reports Lt. Gen. John Wissler, the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Japan confirming that the US is capable of recapturing Senkaku Islands should China invade it.
Wissler also mentioned that it might not be even needed to actually deploy troops on the islands.
During his meeting with the Chinese defense minister Chang Wanquan on Jul 8 US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reaffirmed that based on the Japan-US Security Treaty US is fully committed to defend the Senkaku Islands.
Today the government has finally change the interpretation of the Constitution to approve of Japan to exercise the right for collective self-defense. Though some additional ‘wording’ limitations has been made in order to make Komeito, another party in the ruling coalitions to agree to the plan, it is a big step for Japan to take up more responsibility for the peace and stability in the APAC region.
But this is just the first step. The next step must be the establishment of the truly sovereign Constitution created by people of Japan.
Korea announced that they would conduct target practice in the vicinity of the occupied Takeshima Islands (Shimane pref., Okinoshima) starting Jun 20. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga during his press conference on Jun 19 stated: “The military exercises are to be conducted within the Japanese territory, we cannot accept it. This is really deplorable”. The government via the Korean embassy strongly called for Korea to cancel the trainings.
When received the notice of the trainings Japan Coast Guard on the night of Jun 18 issued a “navigation warning” for the ships that are to pass in the vicinity. Commenting on this warning Suga underlined: “The warning was issued in consideration of security. It does not mean that we admit Korean claims about Takeshima Islands and it does not mean that we are recognizing these military exercises.”
An official of the Ministry of Foreign affairs suspects that these Korean military exercises are connected with the investigation results on the Kono statement that are to be presented to the parliament on Jun 20.
Komeito has gracefully agreed to consider extremely limited right to execute collective self-defense but only if “there is a risk that the lives etc. of Japanese nationals would be completely ruined”.
This explanation is taken from government’s interpretation of 1972. I still cannot help myself wondering why would Komeito cling to the past interpretations that much. Why would they want that there would be absolutely no contradictions with the previous interpretations…
As stated in the advisers’ report, the security situation around Japan has worsened drastically in the last few years and Japan needs to stand up to the new challenges.
Just recently Chinese jets repeated dangerous approach to the JSDF jets. Russian planes in the north keep provoking our air forces as well. One must be completely nuts not to understand the strained situation Japan is in.
Sources in LDP has already pointed out that the checks proposed by Komeito will greatly limit the execution of the right for collective self-defense to the extent that it would hardly ever be executed.
What I found particularly interesting when reading the report of the board of advisers for the government regarding reviewing legal infrastructure concerning security is the detailed description of different interpretations of the right to execute collective self-defense that were adopted by the government after the WWII.
One of the major argument of people and parties opposing the approval for the right to execute collective self-defense via interpretation of Constitution is that you cannot just throw away the interpretation that was adopted by the government clearly forbidding the right to execute collective self-defense and turn it all 180 degrees.
The problem is there was no one interpretation, there were several. After the WWII there was no differentiation between the right for individual and collective self-defense. The constitution just states that Japan is allowed to protect itself if an armed attack is staged against it. The means of such protection are left up to the government and are bound to be approved by the parliament. Both individual and collective self-defense were understood here.
Only some forty years before when the discussion began about the meaning of the “minimum necessary” degree of self-defense, the government split individual and collective self-defense definitions and declared that the collective self-defense would exceed the “minimum necessary” degree of self-defense and is thus forbidden by the Constitution.
But the report points out that the security situation surrounding Japan has drastically changed over the last ten years and keeps rapidly changing. No smaller country has ability to defend its territory and interests by itself if confronted by a bigger and stronger enemy country. That is why the right to exercise collective self-defense can no longer be ignored and should be approved by changing the interpretation of the current Constitution.
Another argument usually used by Komeito is that the ‘limited’ right to exercise collective self-defense is not really limited or the limits are very vague. The report clearly states that in the modern world a country’s interests can lie far beyond its territorial waters and there is no sense to set any geographical limitations for the right to execute collective self-defense. However, the limits are there. The limits are in the Constitution itself. Any use of weapons must be approved by the parliament before or in a crisis situation after the actual use of force. Having this strong limit, what other limits are needed?
Then there is argument used by the communists and socialists – once we approve of the right for collective self-defense, America will send Japan to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, you name it. But this is a complete lie. All politicians who use this argument are shamelessly lying to their voters or do not understand the issue either. The keyword in the right to exercise collective self-defense is the word “right”. Absolutely no “LIABILITY” arises from having the “RIGHT” to exercise collective self-defense. If a request for help comes from America, Japan will certainly scrutinize it at different levels. Then government decision and approval from parliament are required.
The head of Russian Duma (Lower House) Sergey Naryshkin came to Japan for two days to participate in the “Russian Cultural Festival”. On Jun 3 he met with House of Councilors chairman Masaaki Yamazaki. Naryshkin protested over the sanctions imposed on Russia over the situation in Ukraine, to which Japan has joined, slamming those as “unilateral and nonconstructive”.
It must be said that Naryshkin is on the stop list in both America and EU, but Japan hoping to keep more or less stable relations with Putin’s Russia did not include him in the list of people who would be refused Japanese visa.
Naryshkin requested that Putin would like to visit Japan in November when sambo competition is to be held in Chiba. It is unknown what was the official reply from Japan, but some time ago chief cabinet secretary Suga stated that there are no changes in the planned Putin’s visit to Japan this fall.
This time though Japan has drastically limited the contacts of governmental officials with Naryshkin in the view of G7 sanctions. At the same time Naryshkin was allowed to meet with House of Councilors Chairman, meaning that Japan would like to keep a certain level of contacts with Russia.
Looking at China’s strong reaction to PM Shinzo Abe’s and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s speeches openly criticizing China about trying to change the existing world order by force one can see that China does see Japan and America getting close as an imminent threat to its expansion in the East and South China seas.
Other countries at Asia Security Conference in Singapore also supported Japan trying to play more active part maintaining peace and stability in the region.
Does it mean that America is really serious about its proclaimed power shift to Asia? Does America really count on Japan and expect for it to play more important role in the Pacific, sharing responsibility, costs and influence in the region? So far the steps of Obama’s administration seem to be logical – US defense budget was drastically cut, America is supportive of Abe’s strategy of ‘proactive pacifism’ and the plans to make the right for collective self-defense possible.
Still it is yet to be seen how far America is ready to go in order to keep China’s ambitions in check. On the other hand, for Japan it does not really matter because it is to become the major power in the Pacific not for America, but for itself.
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.
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.
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.