Shinzo Abe to unveil stance on collective self-defense

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce Thursday his government`s basic stance on whether Japan should lift its self-imposed ban on using the right to collective self-defense, a top government spokesman said today.

PTI| Updated: May 13, 2014, 16:01 PM IST

Tokyo: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce Thursday his government`s basic stance on whether Japan should lift its self-imposed ban on using the right to collective self-defense, a top government spokesman said today.

The announcement will be made after a panel of experts submits a report early Thursday to call for the removal of the ban and the National Security Council holds a meeting to discuss the issue, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

"The prime minister is planning to explain the government`s basic policy and how we are going to move forward," Suga said at a press conference.

"If we decide to change the interpretation of the Constitution after consultations with the ruling bloc, we will seek Cabinet approval before Diet debate," he said.

Abe is expected to present specific examples that would require Japan to defend allies under armed attack in collective self-defense, and urge the ruling bloc to conduct a review of the current legal framework at a press conference slated for Thursday, government sources said.

The issue of whether Japan should be allowed to exercise the right is still divisive, as the New Komeito party, the junior coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party, remains unconvinced about Abe`s move.

New Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi on Tuesday questioned Abe`s push for allowing Japan to play a greater security role, saying the first priority for the ruling parties should be to deliver on the promises they made to the public when the current coalition government was formed in December 2012.

"I wonder if the public expects us to devote our energy to a political theme that is not included in the agreement for the coalition government," Yamaguchi told reporters.

The panel, endorsed by Abe, is expected to urge the prime minster in its report to allow Japan`s exercise of the right under limited conditions such as when its security is under threat, and its close allies make clear requests for help.

Some of the scenarios discussed at the panel include Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels defending U.S. vessels with which they are sailing on the high seas, and the interception of ballistic missiles targeting U.S. Soil.
For Abe and his LDP, support from New Komeito is vital to proceed with a series of envisaged changes to Japan`s security policy, bound by the pacifist Constitution.
LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba expressed hope the same day that the ruling bloc will start talks on collective self-defense as early as this week to find middle ground.

(Kyodo)