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    LDP recommends SDF-related amendment

    The LDP’s Research Commission on the Constitution has reached a conclusion about how to deal with the dubious constitutionality of using the SDF in international conflicts: change the constitution:

    The members of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Research Commission on the Constitution agreed Friday to propose revising the second paragraph of Article 9 of the Constitution to state that the nation possesses military forces.

    During the discussion of an outline of the party’s draft amendments to the Constitution, the commission, chaired by Okiharu Yasuoka, also agreed to expand the list of duties fulfilled by the Self-Defense Forces to include national defense and international cooperation.

    The party is set to compile the outline by the end of the year.

    During the discussion conducted at the party headquarters in Tokyo, most of the members insisted that the constitutionality of the SDF should be clarified by stipulating that the nation has military potential.

    Most of the members said it was not necessary to stipulate in the Constitution the nation’s right of collective self-defense, citing that few countries specify such a right in their constitutions. Under the right of collective self-defense, a nation may consider an attack against its allies as one against itself and may launch counterattacks against an aggressor that has attacked an ally.

    I’m assuming that part about changing the wording of Article 9 means that there would be an amendment. I’m certainly no constitutional law scholar, but I don’t think the Diet can just go in with a red pen and change phrases without leaving a record at the end of the document. Have to ask a lawyer friend.

    Prime Minister Koizumi was apparently talking about possibly proceeding without a constitutional amendment (the Asahi article is very vaguely worded, and I never found the original Japanese versions). Naturally, the usual “51st state” fears have also been raised:

    Pointing out that the United States has forces stationed worldwide, former Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda said Japan would be obliged to follow the United States anywhere in the world if some form of restriction [on the type of collective self-defense the SDF can participate in without being regarded as violating the non-aggression pledge in Article 9] was not stipulated.

    Given that the SDF has been waddling, swimming, and quacking like a military for years now–and given that Japan has the DPRK and the PRC to worry about as much as or more than the US–officially acknowledging that it has a military seems to me to be the sensible thing to do. It would be sensible even if Japan weren’t angling for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The world is both different (Japan is super-rich, no longer a devastated post-war mess) and the same (resentment over Japan’s conduct during its occupation of Asia is kept raw by visits to the Yasukuni Shrine and the cagey wording of apologies on the part of Japanese politicians) compared to fifty years ago in ways that make the genteel fiction that the SDF is a glorified police force dangerous to maintain.

    4 Responses to “LDP recommends SDF-related amendment”

    1. Toren says:

      This is exactly what I predicted to my Japanese brother-in-law two weeks ago. He pooh-pooh’d the idea, saying “I know more about Japanese politics than you.” True, but Japanese people in general don’t know much about the sausage-making aspect of politics. It simply doesn’t interact with their lives enough. Whereas us wily Americans know way more about it than is really healthy, I suppose.
      I’ll try not to gloat. 😉

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, it always floors me, considering how much consensus-building, ego-stroking, jockeying for favor, and gladhanding you have to do here just to buy a quart of milk, the way Japanese people get so shocked when Japan has to make international-level compromises. The media have been discussing the pros and cons of amending the constitution for months now–still. It was a pretty clear signal the issue wasn’t dead. (The government and journalists have very close ties here. I mean, Toren knows that, but others may not.) I didn’t have time to read the Nikkei print piece this morning…or rather, I didn’t have room, since I came in at rush hour. But it’ll be interesting to see how everyone positions himself.

    3. Toren says:

      I’ve been told by a pretty unimpeachable source that in Japan reporters who file reports the government doesn’t approve of promptly lose access to official press conferences.
      Which, I would suppose, has a bit of a “chilling effect,” as they say.
      On the other hand, imagine a White House press conference without Helen Thomas…mmm, I’m going to my happy place now….

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      I have a journalist friend or two who say the same; it’s pretty much an open secret, I believe. Everyone knows that it’s the tabloid weeklies that tell you what’s really going on. We all just flap our copies of the Nikkei at each other on the station platforms to maintain tradition.