Japan's new security laws came into effect in March 2016, expanding the scope of activities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). But what exactly does this entail and what changes can be seen? The Mainichi answers some common questions readers may have about Japan's new security legislation.
Under the new security laws, if a country that has close ties with Japan is attacked, the SDF is now authorized to counterattack under the right to collective self-defense. Additionally, if a situation arises overseas that seriously affects Japan, the SDF can also provide foreign troops with logistical support such as supplies and transport anywhere in the world. Previously the SDF was not authorized to use force against other countries or organizations while participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations by virtue of war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, but this restriction has also been removed.
Question: How has the SDF changed with these new laws?
Answer: First, it is necessary to make sure that Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Force personnel can properly fulfill their missions authorized under the security laws through repeated drills. To that end, detailed rules about the standards and protocols for the use of weapons and how drills should be handled have to be established. Up until now, the SDF did simulate possible deployment scenarios under the new security laws, but on Aug. 24, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada officially announced the start of drills preparing specifically for the SDF's new responsibilities, such as coming to the rescue of civilians and foreign troops under attack in remote areas. You could say that the new policies are starting to take shape.
Q: Has criticism and opposition toward the new security laws died down?
A: In Diet deliberations, the government stressed that Japan "can now act seamlessly in an increasingly difficult international security environment" and that the new laws "further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance." However, concerns were raised to the effect that "the right to collective self-defense is not permitted under the Constitution" and "risks posed to SDF personnel will increase," with public opinion polls remaining divided.
Q: Now that the laws have come into effect, is it too late to discuss them further?
A: The government plans to freshly issue orders for missions including the SDF's coming to rescue of civilians and foreign troops in remote areas. The details of such missions should be discussed further in the Diet and on other public platforms. The government has a responsibility to explain thoroughly the reasons why the SDF is being mobilized to certain countries or regions and the risk management measures being taken. (Answers by Naritake Machida, City News Department)