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GSDF member's suit on potential collective self-defense missions sent back to high court

The Supreme Court building is seen in Tokyo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Supreme Court on July 22 scrapped a high court decision that a Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) member could legally seek confirmation he would not have to go abroad to engage in collective self-defense under Japan's security laws if he received such an order.

The First Petty Bench of the top court sent the case back to the Tokyo High Court for it to thoroughly debate whether the GSDF member could actually be punished for refusing a dispatch order.

The GSDF member argued in his lawsuit that an order to engage in collective self-defense in line with the nation's security legislation would be a violation of Article 9 of the Constitution. Article 9 states that the Japanese people forever renounce the "threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

The focus of the top court hearing was whether the man's case met the grounds for deliberation in a court of law. The Supreme Court pointed out that the GSDF member's claim was aimed at averting punishment should he refuse to comply with a deployment order. It said that in order to determine whether his claim could be accepted or not, there needed to be a concrete possibility that he could be punished for refusing to comply with such an order. The high court is expected to deliberate on the possibility of such an order actually being issued.

In the first ruling on the case by the Tokyo District Court in March 2017, the court stated that there was no specific or realistic possibility of a deployment order being issued, and deemed the man's claim for confirmation that he wouldn't need to comply with such an order to be unlawful.

In response to this, the Tokyo High Court in January 2018 judged that there was a possibility the man could be reprimanded or criminally punished if he didn't comply with a dispatch order, and ruled his claim for confirmation to be lawful.

(Japanese original by Akira Hattori, City News Department)

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