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    How collective is “collective”?

    The Diet’s Committee on the Constitution (or however it’s being anglicized) has released the draft of its proposals, which are due in finalized form in April. The summary at the Yomiuri pulls things together pretty well.

    The hottest topic at the meeting was whether the amended Constitution should clearly state the right to exercise collective self-defense.

    An advocate of the change said, “It would be bad if the government’s interpretation of the stipulation could be easily altered after a change in administration. An ambiguous constitution is problematic.”

    But an opponent said, “It’s a matter of course that the nation can exercise the right to collective self-defense. There’s no need to put it in the Constitution.”

    Of course this is the…culmination is probably the wrong word, since this could keep going indefinitely…latest stage in a protracted series of negotiations. The Shin-Komeito is the LDP’s partner in its ruling coalition; one of the issues on which their alliance is shaky is the use of the SDF. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the chief opposition party, opposes changing the constitution. I’m not sure whether its was a DPJ member or someone else who made the statement quoted as “It’s a matter of course that the nation can exercise the right to collective self-defense,” but it’s hard to figure what that could mean. If conservative interpretations of the constitution didn’t regard Article 9 as prohibiting Japan from entering international conflicts, this debate wouldn’t be going in the first place.

    Here’s what Article 9 says:

    1. 日本国民は、正義と秩序を基調とする国際平和を誠実に希求し、国権の発動たる戦争と、武力による威嚇又は武力の行使は、国際紛争を解決する手段としては、永久にこれを放棄する。

    2. 前項の目的を達するため、陸海空軍その他の戦力は、これを保持しない。国の交戦権は、これを認めない。

    1. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

    2. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceeding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

    Added after looking at Reuters: You know what I don’t get? Look for the latest Japan-related headlines on Reuters. I can see why Livedoor’s attempted takeover of Fuji Television is a big, big story. I haven’t written about it because, well, I usually don’t report on business stuff; the case does say interesting things about the state of Japanese media, but nothing that’s moved me to go off on it. The nice thing about having a vanity site (verging on Apollonia in my case) is that you get to write about whatever you please.

    Reuters is not a vanity site (stop sniggering, you boys in the back!), and you’d think that it would see fit to give some attention to a proposed change in the Japanese constitution. I don’t think it’s especially newsworthy because I live here, you understand. Japan has the first ever constitution to renounce war explicitly. It’s America’s chief ally in a volatile region. We’re not talking about a potentially insignificant shift here.

    One Response to “How collective is “collective”?”

    1. Simon World says:

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