JAPAN MOVES AWAY FROM PACIFISM, OK’S FIGHTING FOR ALLIES

Washington Free Beacon on July 1, 2014, published a Reuters report Japan taking a historic step away from its post-war pacifism by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since 1945, a victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe but a move that has riled China and worries many Japanese voters. Excerpts below:

The change, the most dramatic shift in policy since Japan set up its post-war armed forces 60 years ago, will widen Japan’s military options by ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense”, or aiding a friendly country under attack.

Abe’s cabinet adopted a resolution outlining the shift, which also relaxes limits on activities in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations and “grey zone” incidents short of full-scale war, Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters. Long constrained by the post-war constitution, Japan’s armed forces will become more aligned with the militaries of other advanced nations, in terms of its options, but the government will be wary of putting boots on the ground in multilateral operations such as the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Abe repeated that stance, while stressing Japan had to respond to an increasingly tough security environment.

“There is no change in the general principle that we cannot send troops overseas,” Abe told a televised news conference, flanked by a poster showing Japanese mothers and infants fleeing a theoretical combat zone on a U.S. vessel under attack.

South Korea, like Japan allied with the United States, but still aggrieved about Tokyo’s 20th century colonization of the Korean peninsula, said it would not accept any change in policy affecting its security unless it gave its agreement.

Abe’s advisers have said Tokyo should take no action involving a friendly country without that country’s consent.

The shift, however, will be welcomed by Washington, which has long urged Tokyo to become a more equal alliance partner, and by Southeast Asia nations that also have rows with China

Conservatives say the constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9 has limited Japan’s ability to defend itself and that a changing regional power balance, including a rising China, means policies must be more flexible.

Abe took office in 2012 promising to revive Japan’s economy and bolster its security posture, has pushed for the change – which revises a longstanding government interpretation of the charter – …

Legal revisions to implement the change must be approved by parliament…

Since its 1945 defeat, Japan’s military has not engaged in combat. Past governments have stretched the constitution’s limits to develop a military now on par with that of France and to permit non-combat missions abroad, but its armed forces remain far more constrained legally than those of other nations.

According to the cabinet resolution, Japan could exercise force to the minimum degree necessary in cases where a country with which it has close ties is attacked and the following conditions are met: there is a threat to the existence of the Japanese state, there is a clear danger that the people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could be subverted, and there is no appropriate alternative.

Precisely how the change might work in practice remains unclear, although it is likely to ease the path to joint military exercises with countries other than the United States.

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