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Is PM Aso half-stepping on collective self-defense?

Japan Troops

The Yomiuri Shimbun ran a story on Prime Minister Taro Aso half-stepping or playing politics when it comes to discussing Japan’s right to (re)militarize. Aso remains unable to begin discussion to alter the government’s constitutional interpretation that prohibits the country from exercising the right to collective self-defense. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged Aso, his close friend, to make the issue the party’s campaign pledge for the next House of Representatives election, and changing the government’s interpretation has been Aso’s stock argument, as well. Aso, however, apparently does not want to create any source of contention before the next Lower House election.


 On April 23, Aso held a meeting at his office with former Ambassador to the United States Shunji Yanai, who also the chair of the Council for Rebuilding the Legal Foundation for National Defense, an advisory panel to the prime minister established when Abe was premier. In the meeting, Aso was briefed on a report produced by the council last June. The report calls the government to allow exercising the right to collective self-defense for strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance and playing an active role in international contributions. It was produced during the tenure of Yasuo Fukuda, Abe’s successor. Fukuda was dismissive about changing the interpretation, and the matter has been left unaddressed since.

Prime Minister Aso’s stance has consistently been that the country should be allowed to exercise the collective defense right but there are strong objections to changing the interpretation in the New Komeito and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as well. Prime ministerial aides think the question of collective self-defense is a long-term issue after the next election.

Four cases studied by the council and main points in its report

Japan-U.S. alliance

Defending U.S. vessels

The country must be allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense, as it can defend a U.S. naval vessel only in an extremely exceptional case under the government’s conventional interpretation of the Constitution.

Intercepting a missile targeting the United States

The matter cannot be resolved by exercising the right to individual self-defense or police powers; There is no other option but to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

International peacekeeping operations (PKO)

Use of weapons

The use of weapons by the SDF, including rushing over to provide protection, must follow the international standards.

Logistical support

Whether or not to provide logistical support to acclivities of other countries must be determined in view of the appropriateness of Japan’s policy.


  1. Paula Paula

    Who knows with the recent NK launch and pirate problems maybe they can act as catalysts. God knows that the US would LOVE for Japan to help out. Plus with BMD there still seems to be a concern that if Japan detects something headed for a US Territory could they actually act on our behalf? With a ban on collective self-defense it seems the answer is no. Ookii mondai desu ne!?

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