Saturday, May 19, 2007

Japan Mulls Revising Collective Self-Defense Right

A Japanese government panel of experts discussed Friday the need for a reinterpretation of the constitutional law which forbids the country from exercising the right to collective self-defense. At the beginning of the first meeting of its kind, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted Japan's necessity to perform collective self-defense. "It is important that the Japan-U.S. alliance functions more effectively," he said. Abe listed four situations in which Japan might use its missiles to intercept a ballistic missile fired toward the United States and asked the 13-member panel to discuss the cases. The situations were: whether it is appropriate for Japan to use its missile defense system to intercept ballistic missiles targeting the United States; whether Japan's Self-Defense Forces are allowed to fight back when a ship traveling side by side with an SDF ship is attacked in open waters; whether Japan can provide rear-area support for multinational forces; and whether Japan can use weapons to return fire against attacks on other countries' military forces jointly working with Japan in UN peacekeeping operations and other missions. The panel was set up in line with Abe's wish to change Tokyo's interpretation of the pacifist constitution, reinforce the Japan-U.S. alliance, and expand the activities of Japan's Self-Defense Forces. Former Japanese Ambassador to the United States Shunji Yanai was selected as panel chairman at the meeting, Kyodo News said. The next meeting is scheduled for June 11, and the panel will meet several times before reaching a conclusion, Kyodo quoted Yanai as saying.