New security bills envision threats to Japanese people

New security bills envision threats to Japanese people
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The following is an explanation of the situations in which Japan would exercise the right of collective self-defence.

One of the key aspects of the new security legislation is the approval of the limited exercise of the right of collective self-defence in certain situations. The nation would be authorised to execute armed counterattacks if a country with close ties to Japan is attacked - even if Japan itself is not directly attacked.

The government long maintained the stance that Japan has the right of collective self-defence but that the Constitution prohibits this right from being exercised because it exceeds the minimum necessary use of force authorised under Article 9 of the Constitution.

However, the Cabinet decided to change this interpretation in July last year. The bills were submitted to the Diet regarding armed attacks and situations that threaten survival, which would allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defence.

The bills stipulate that situations threatening survival present a clear danger to the lives of the people, as well as threaten to undermine their right to live peacefully. The nation would be allowed to exercise the right of collective self-defence as a last resort within the scope of the minimum necessary use of force.

But what exactly is a situation that threatens survival?

According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one such example would be an oil crisis triggered by conflicts in the Middle East.

"The situation would be comprehensively assessed not only in terms of economic effects, but also as to whether there would be a serious and significant impact on people's lives, such as the disruption of vital services caused by shortages of daily commodities and electricity," Abe said at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The prime minister also insisted that Japan should exercise the right of collective self-defence to protect US vessels if they are attacked while, for example, conducting surveillance activities in Japanese coastal waters or carrying evacuees who include Japanese nationals.

"Armed attacks aimed at the United States have occurred near our country," the prime minister said at the lower house session, referring to North Korea. "The attacking country has a sizable arsenal of ballistic missiles capable of reaching our nation, and we're facing the imminent threat of an armed attack."

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