Thursday, August 15, 2013

Japan eyes defending allies under attack

A government panel on security issues will propose that Japan defend not only the United States but also other allied nations under attack by exercising its right of collective self-defense, the panel's acting chairman said Tuesday.

Shinichi Kitaoka, who also serves as president of the International University of Japan, said in an interview with Kyodo News the panel will state in its report that Japan can exercise the right when "countries with close ties (with it)" are under attack and it is deemed to do harm to Japan.

Kitaoka indicated the panel will not specify which country to defend in the upcoming report as withholding such details would be helpful in maintaining deterrence.

"There needs to be some kind of vagueness when we talk about security," Kitaoka said.

Some experts say Japan should extend the target of its use of collective self-defense to countries including Australia, the Philippines and India.

The panel, reestablished by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is scheduled to meet Sept. 12 before compiling by the end of the year the report that would advise Tokyo to lift its self-imposed ban on collective-self defense, or coming to the aid of allies under armed attack, in the changing security environment.

Kitaoka also suggested Japan can come to the aid of countries defending sea lanes to ensure oil transport from the Middle East, describing them as "lifelines."

Japan has been particularly concerned about China's assertiveness in the East China Sea where Tokyo and Beijing are at odds over the sovereignty of uninhabited islands known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China. North Korea's nuclear and missile development is also a concern.

Under the government's current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, Japan does not permit itself to exercise the right because doing so would go beyond the self-defense allowed under the supreme law.

In a 2008 report, a similar panel limited the use of collective-self defense to the United States, saying Japan should be able to defend U.S. naval vessels attacked on the high seas, or intercept ballistic missiles targeting U.S. soil. - ABS-CBN News

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