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 world. 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."