Abe's dangerous move
Updated: 2014-05-19 07:56
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made it public on Thursday that Tokyo would seek to exercise the right of collective self-defense, which would allow his country to fight alongside its allies beyond its borders.
That right has been considered beyond what is permitted under Japan's Constitution. Article 9 of the country's so-called pacifist Constitution, which has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, stipulates the Japanese people "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation".
Circumventing the difficult process of revising the Constitution, Abe has taken the course of voiding the article by having the government reinterpret the basic law, says an opinion piece in the Korea Herald.
Abe announced the change in Tokyo's position on collective self-defense in a news conference shortly after he received a report from a panel of experts who have deliberated on the matter over the past year. This formality of basing his announcement on the advisory group's recommendations did little to reduce its association with Abe, who appointed all 14 members of the advisory group and also kept in touch with them throughout the process of drawing up the paper.
Abe is expected to do his utmost to gain consent from the New Komeito Party, the dovish junior partner in the coalition government, in the hope that the constitutional reinterpretation will be approved by his cabinet as early as next month. If the work to enact related bills and revise the guidelines for defense cooperation with the United States proceed as scheduled, Japan will be ready to exercise the right of collective self-defense by next year.
The value of Japan's pacifist Constitution, which has been the solid foundation for its postwar recovery and prosperity, is something that should not be discarded in pursuit of misguided political aspirations.
The most serious problem with the report adopted by Abe is that, on the pretext of national security, it would open the way for the top law to be altered on the whim of government. Having taken the lead in setting a precedent that threatens the foundation of Japan's constitutional democracy, Abe might have to witness his successors resorting to similar means to force a change that goes against his convictions.