2014年12月08日

Reinterpretation of Article 9 and Japan’s Security Destination 1

On July 2014, the Japanese government approved a controversial reinterpretation of the Article 9 of nation’s Constitution that will lift the ban on exercising collective self-defense. This historic change will allow Japanese troops to fight overseas with their ally, the United States, for the first time since the WWII.

The Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in press conference, “the new security strategy is necessary to deal with growing threats in the Asia Pacific region.”  He said, “being fully prepared is effective in discouraging any attempt to wage a war on Japan... that is my conviction.” 

When announced, Abe’s decision sparked sharp pubic opposition and thousands of demonstrators occupied Tokyo streets in defense of the “Pacifist Constitution” that came into effect in 1947. Critics argue that the reinterpretation of the Article 9 is, strategically, a profound mistake that will increase the chance of Japan getting involved in warfare. Abe is also criticized for making this decision without adequate discussion in parliament or of even greater importance, a referendum that is required to change the constitution.

Although Abe’s administration still needs the passage of numerous pieces of legislation in the Japanese Diet in order to have the reinterpretation become effective, Abe is planning to accomplish it after upcoming national election scheduled for December 14th. The coalition government, consisting of the Liberal Democratic Party (“LDP”) and the Komei Party, are likely to win and keep their majority. 

This paper will examine the current security environment throughout the Asia-Pacific region and what impact the reinterpretation of Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution will bring about, and explore the best alternatives for Japan’s security strategy.

History of Article 9

ARTICLE 9. 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) To accomplish the aim of the preceding 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.

Article 9 is a clause in the National Constitution of Japan that bans exercising collective self-defense as a mean to settle international dispute. It was ratified on May 3 1947, after the end of WWII, and during the occupation of the U.S. and its Allies.  Article 9 has been a defining feature of Japan’s post war national security.

Both the individual self-defense and collective self-defense are considered, by International law*, as “the inherent right of all nations if armed attack occur against them.” While the individual self-defense refers to the use of force when your own country is under attack, the collective self-defense is a principle that binds military allies together, committing them to protect each other as an attack on one ally is considered an attack on all allies.

*Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of collective or individual self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. (Article 51 of the United Nations Charter).

Although there is not a specific statement in regard with the individual self-defense and collective self-defense in the article, the post war Japanese government have interpreted the ban on “use of force” in the article 9 in such a way that Japan maintains the inherent right to exercise the individual self-defense, yet the exercising the right of collective self-defense is unconstitutional.

After being defeated in the WWII, in order to be accepted by the international community, Japan pursued to become a democratic and peaceful nation with the development and ratification of their pacifist constitution. The Article 9 is in fact a back bone of post war Japan not only in the political and ideological context but also at the emotional level for the average Japanese citizen. Although the original draft of the Article 9 was written by American with an intension to prevent Japan from pursuing a military power again in the future, it was welcomed by majority of Japanese who had suffered from a painful and exhausting war. It also reflects the deep remorse toward all the people victimized by Japan’s war of aggression. It is a country’s commitment and pledge to the world that it will not make the same mistake again.

Because Japanese public were adamant about keeping Article 9, any political gesture or movement that undermine it, such as the idea of creation of the Self Defense Force (SDF), became controversial. 

In 1950, the National Police Reserve, the former body of SDF, was established when the occupation forces were sent to the Korean War and left Japan with no defense. With tension of the cold war and rising threats in Korean Peninsula, the U.S. sought to have mutual security relationship with Japan.  In 1952, along with the Peace Treaty under which Japan regained its sovereignty, the Mutual Security Assistance Pact between Japan and the U.S. was ratified (and was later amended in 1960 as theTreaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan “U.S.-Japan Security Treaty”).

Under this U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, it was agreed that the U.S. guarantees to protect Japan from external threats, while Japan, in return, allows the U.S. to maintain military bases in Japan and to handle both internal security and natural disasters.

As the National Police Reserve was redesigned and reorganized where they were further developed into an armed force, its constitutionality became controversial. Using the word “Self Defense Force” instead of Military to avoid the impression of revival of Japanese military, the Government rationalized the existence of SDF by limiting its role to “exclusively defensive defense (senshu-bouei)” in national security issues.

Article 9 and U.S.-Japan Security Treaty have been the two wheels of vehicle for national security in post war Japan. The U.S. military bases in Japan, however, were not there just to protect Japan. Especially during the cold war, it was, in a larger scheme, a part of the U.S. strategies to secure in Asia-Pacific region in light of Soviet Union and Communist China. With over 40,000 U.S. soldiers throughout Japan, U.S. presence was viewed as a “deterrent mechanism” against a growing Communist threat.

Article 9, which is at the core of national security policy during last 60 years, has played crucial roles and enabled Japan to avoid direct involvement of warfare or sending troops to overseas.  For example, unlike other U.S. allies who exercised collective self-defense and sent troops the Gulf War, Japan only provided the financial support. Despite the mounted pressure from the international community, Japan decided to stick its own promise not to use the force as a mean of settling international disputes.

It should be noted though that Article 9 has put Japan in tricky position as Japan was not always able to meet the expectation of allies. During the Gulf War, Japan had to take a blow when its financial contribution was not much appreciated by the international community as it was “too little and too late”.  Consequently, in 2001, when the United States began the invasion to Iraq, under the pressure to support the war against the terrorism, the Anti-Terrorism Special Measure Law was passed, which temporally allowed Japan to support the U.S. military outside the Japanese territory. Although SDF’s activities were limited to refueling to the U.S. warships in the Indiana Ocean and humanitarian aid on the Southern Iraq, it was the first time that SDF was sent to support the war when Japan was not under direct threat.

Continue to read Abe's reinterpretation of Article 9



posted by Oceanlove at 19:50| 日本の政治 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする
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