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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #30: May 9, 2002

Japan Parliament to Ready Attack Plan

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"Japan Parliament to Ready Attack Plan"
Washington Post (Associated Press)

A very alarming headline, as if Japan is on its way to conquer the world with guns. To the relief of most of the people including those in Japan, this title does not correctly describe the contents of this article. The article itself is a fairly accurate description, though in a very simplified way, of the new bills submitted on how the government should act during a national crisis. Character of the bills is more of a contingency plan and definitely not an attack plan. The bills have become a subject of controversy because, as a natural consequence of their objectives, they discuss the ways the Forces are to be utilized in case of national emergency.

Japan's Constitution, proclaimed in 1947 and never has been amended since, in its article 9, declares that "Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation" and in order to accomplish this, "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."

The interpretation of these words became ambiguous, however, in just a few years, during the Korean War in 1950, when Japan was still under seize and guidance of U.S. forces, in order to assist the U.N. forces fighting in Korea, a group with guns was established in Japan, later named as Self-Defense Forces.

Considering the historical background, the present argument on the bills seems to be off target in two ways.

For one thing, neither the ruling nor the opposing parties have really sorted out their discussions. One side claims that by enforcing the existence of the Self-Defense Forces, it would irritate some foreign nations thus increasing the risk of confrontation, while the other side argues that demoting the present Forces would have no relevance in enhancing the safety of the country. A recent issue of Japanese Nikkei Shinbun portrays this situation by saying "it is not that carrying an umbrella would make it rain, nor not carrying an umbrella would stop it from raining."

The other and more fundamental point is that the present bill is merely of a housekeeping nature so discussing these bills would really not lead to anywhere. What is needed is to focus the argument on the fundamental issue of whether the "house", which, in this case, is the Self-Defense Force, is really necessary or not. Does Japan need or want a group of people with guns who are assigned and trained to fight malicious aliens?

If the answer is no, then the Self-Defense Forces should be dissolved. It would certainly help Japan financially among other things. But if such a group is deemed to be necessary, then they should stop making those deceiving statements saying that present Self-Defense Force is not any of "land, sea or air forces" as stipulated in the Constitution. It would then perhaps become necessary to amend the Constitution, which is a perfectly legitimate operation, envisaged in the Constitution itself in Article 96, where the necessary procedures are clearly stipulated.

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