Stub­born Abe

Lead­ing se­cu­rity ad­viser touts the right to ‘col­lec­tive self- de­fense’ and joint sea pa­trols

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ja­panese leader Shinzo Abe seems un­likely to stop pur­su­ing his goal of build­ing up the coun­try’s mil­i­tary power de­spite world­wide crit­i­cism.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe is press­ing ahead with his long-time goal of re­mov­ing con­sti­tu­tional re­stric­tions on a mil­i­tary buildup, de­spite world­wide crit­i­cism over his visit last week to the Ya­sukuni Shrine for the war dead, an­a­lysts said.

The steps Abe will take may in­clude al­low­ing Ja­panese armed forces to join other coun­tries in pa­trolling mar­itime routes on the high seas — a move cur­rently un­con­sti­tu­tional — and en­gag­ing US help to elim­i­nate pro­ce­dural ob­sta­cles to rewrit­ing Ja­pan’s paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion, ac­cord­ing to Tokyo’s pol­icy in­sid­ers.

Shinichi Ki­taoka, a for­mer Ja­panese am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions and a key se­cu­rity ad­viser to Abe, told lead­ing Ja­panese news­pa­per Yomi­uri Shim­bun on Sun­day that the “right to col­lec­tive self-de­fense” — il­le­gal un­der the ex­ist­ing of­fi­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Ja­pan’s Con­sti­tu­tion — should be al­lowed, to en­able Ja­panese Self-De­fense Forces to par­tic­i­pate in joint pa­trols safe­guard­ing the “sea lanes” for crude oil ship­ping.

Joint pa­trols along high­sea routes — span­ning from the Mid­dle East via the South China Sea to Ja­pan — are part of the “pro­posal sum­mary” of a key gov­ern­men­tal se­cu­rity pol­icy con­sult­ing panel, said Ki­taoka, act­ing pres­i­dent of the ad­vi­sory panel.

Zhang Boyu, deputy di­rec­tor

Abe’s ul­ti­mate goal is to over­throw the paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion.”

ZHANG BOYU DEPUTY DI­REC­TOR OF THE DEPART­MENT OF JA­PANESE POL­I­TICS OF THE IN­STI­TUTE OF JA­PAN STUD­IES UN­DER THE CHI­NESE ACADEMY OF SO­CIAL SCIENCES

of the Depart­ment of Ja­panese Pol­i­tics at the In­sti­tute of Ja­pan Stud­ies un­der the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said Abe and his Cab­i­net will not give up on re­vis­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“Abe’s ul­ti­mate goal is to over­throw the paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion, and fu­ture pro­ce­dural steps will be taken lit­tle by lit­tle to make the law ex­ist only nom­i­nally,” Zhang said.

The topic on en­abling col­lec­tive self-de­fense was not played down af­ter Abe on Thurs­day be­came the first sit­ting Ja­panese prime min­is­ter in years to visit the Ya­sukuni Shrine, which hon­ors 14 class-A war crim­i­nals from World War II.

Meng Xiangqing, a pro­fes­sor at the PLA’s Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity, said the Abe cab­i­net has al­ready con­ducted an as­sess­ment on the tim­ing of the push for con­sti­tu­tional re­vi­sion, and Tokyo now be­lieves “it is time” be­cause of a range of leg­isla­tive prepa­ra­tions that have been in place.

The US em­bassy in Ja­pan and US State Depart­ment ex­pressed “rare dis­ap­point­ment” be­cause Abe is dam­ag­ing Ja­pan’s re­la­tion­ship with South Korea, another US ally, and caus­ing wider prob­lems for the US, said Jin Can­rong, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ren­min Univer­sity of China in Bei­jing.

“Ja­pan is un­der­min­ing the en­tire US re­bal­anc­ing strat­egy in Asia,” Jin said. “Wash­ing­ton does not feel safe with re­gard to Tokyo. There is a rift be­tween them.”

In an ap­pear­ance on Ja­pan’s na­tional tele­vi­sion net­work NHK on Dec 22 — four days be­fore the shrine visit — Ki­taoka con­firmed that his panel will pro­pose a re­port next spring sug­gest­ing that the gov­ern­ment lift the ban on ex­er­cis­ing the right of col­lec­tive self-de­fense.

He in­di­cated that ex­er­cis­ing col­lec­tive self-de­fense will also be on the agenda when the US and Ja­pan re­vise their de­fense co­op­er­a­tion guide­lines, an over­haul ex­pected be­fore the end of next year.

Con­tain­ing China, boost­ing the US-Ja­pan al­liance and “en­abling Ja­pan’s col­lec­tive self­de­fense to ask Ja­pan to share more of the US bur­den of mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment in East Asia” are prob­a­bly on the agenda of the guide­lines over­haul, said Liu Jiangy­ong, an ex­pert on Ja­panese stud­ies and the deputy dean of the In­sti­tute of Mod­ern In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

“It re­mains to be seen how Wash­ing­ton and Tokyo will deepen their de­fense co­op­er­a­tion,” Liu said.

KIM HONG-JI / REUTERS

A South Korean pro­tester is stopped by po­lice­men as he chants slo­gans de­nounc­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Ya­sukuni Shrine in front of the of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the Ja­panese am­bas­sador in Seoul on Fri­day.

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