The Guardian December 5, 2001

Japan war moves violate Constitution

On November 16 the Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, using 
recently enacted legislation, approved a "basic plan" for dispatching 
Japan's so-called Self-Defence Forces (SDF) abroad to support the US-led 
war in Afghanistan. This "basic plan" is the first time since WW2 that the 
SDF will be taking part in overseas military action. The move is 
unconstitutional. The SDF is restricted by Japan's Constitution to 
operating within Japanese waters and territory, in defence of Japan.

The plan allows for SDF participation in three categories: support for the 
US forces in transport and logistics supplies, repair, maintenance, medical 
supplies and port work; search and rescue; relief for refugees.

SDF transport aircraft and supply and escort ships are to operate in the 
Indian Ocean and Diego Garcia as part of "countermeasures to be taken 
against terrorism", with a specified duration of two years.

The ruling Liberal Democratic, Komei and New Conservative Parties on 
November 12 agreed to amend the UN Peace-keeping Operations Cooperation 
Law, lifting the clauses that prohibit the SDF from participating in UN 
forces and relaxing restrictions on the use of weaponry by SDF personnel.

The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) described the plan as a product of the 
Government's persistence in having the Japanese flag flying on SDF ships in 
the Indian Ocean, warning that it will open up the unconstitutional path on 
which Japan and the US may jointly use military force anywhere in the 

More than 230 constitutional experts from the Japan Association for Studies 
of Constitutional Law, issued a statement expressing their concerns about 
the sending of SDF forces abroad.

In the statement they expressed regret that the SDF dispatch law and the 
revised legislation were passed through the Parliament without discussion 
and called for constitutional principles to be strictly observed.

The JCP warned that abandonment of the Cooperation Law will allow the SDF 
to be thrown into any conflict as part of multilateral forces. "Japan has 
many peaceful ways of contributing to the world instead of using SDF units 
in conflict regions in defiance of the Constitution."

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