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Japanese government submits defense draft to ruling bloc

TOKYO — The Japanese government Tuesday formally presented the ruling parties' security panel with a draft of a Cabinet decision concerning reinterpretation of the Constitution to allow limited exercise of the right to collective self-defense.

According to participants in the panel meeting, the draft incorporates three new conditions for invoking the right to self-defense put forth Friday by Liberal Democratic Party Vice President and panel chair Masahiko Komura.

The draft stipulates that the use of force on the basis of the three conditions would fall within the definition of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense provided for under international law.

New Komeito, the LDP's coalition partner, was to discuss the three conditions internally later in the day.

The draft presented policies for responses across three different domains — addressing infringements that do not amount to armed attacks, so-called gray-zone incidents; making further contributions to peace and stability in the international community, or collective security such as participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations and other international cooperation; and self-defense measures permitted under Article 9 of the Constitution, or the right to collective self-defense.

It said self-defense measures permitted under Article 9 of the Constitution are currently under discussion.

Although Komura's three new conditions do not specifically use the terms "right to collective self-defense," the draft made clear the uses of force outlined within are based in part on the right to collective self-defense provided for under international law.

The draft strikes a distinction between exercising the right to collective self-defense on the basis of international law and exercising the right under a constitutional interpretation.

The country, under the current interpretation of the Constitution, considers the Self-Defense Forces "different from a military as normally conceived," although they are viewed as a military under international law.

Past administrations have asserted that the country is prohibited from exercising the right to collective self-defense under the current interpretation of the Constitution. With the draft, the government therefore aims to clarify its position that it will not permit the full exercise of the right to collective self-defense as defined in international law, instead allowing it only conditionally as part of self-defense measures.

The LDP and Komeito will begin discussions based on the draft, and begin refining the wording of the document, during a panel meeting scheduled for Friday. During Tuesday's meeting, the two parties decided that their secretaries general would discuss the scheduling of future discussions.

According to sources, however, Komeito plans to ask for revisions to the wording of Komura's three new conditions, which means it will likely be difficult for the Cabinet to grant approval during the current Diet session, which ends Sunday.
 

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