28/04/2022 |

Peace Boat Statement on LDP Security Proposal

This article was originally published in PeaceBoat.org

On April 21, 2022, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan compiled a proposal calling for a revision of the Government’s National Security Strategy and other documents to include a substantial expansion of defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP, as well as the possession of a real capability to strike enemy bases.
This proposal deviates from the principles of the Constitution and increases the danger of war. A group of 20 leading scholars and activists from throughout Japan, including Peace Boat Executive Committee member Kawasaki Akira, issued an emergency statement protesting against the proposal.

This took place during the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) in 2022. Following its launch on April 21 with 20 names, a further 600 people have now endorsed the statement (as of April 28). The full text is as follows.

[Urgent Statement] Protesting the Liberal Democratic Party’s “Security Proposal”, which deviates from constitutional principles and increases the risk of war

In preparation for the scheduled revision of three security policy documents at the end of 2022, including the National Security Strategy, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) today compiled a set of recommendations. The content of this proposal is a policy of military expansion,  deviating from the principles of Japan’s Peace Constitution and increasing the risk of war.

First, it proposes the possession of a substantial capability to attack enemy bases. This has in the new proposal been given the different name ‘counterattack capability’ against ballistic missile attacks or similar, however, from the history of discussions within the party it is clear that this refers to enemy base strike capability. The proposal further states that the targets of attack “are not limited to missile bases, but also include the command and control functions of the other country”. Having such an offensive capability would effectively contravene Japan’s basic policy of defense under the Constitution –  that is, exclusively defense-oriented policy. Although the proposal claims that this is “under the concept of exclusively defense-oriented policy”, it is in reality an extremely dangerous policy, coming as close as possible to a pre-emptive attack by Japan. Having offensive capability does not eliminate the threat of missiles, nor does it completely stop enemy missiles. If Japan adopts such an offensive posture, other countries will naturally react in the same way. This would unnecessarily increase military tensions in the region and in fact increase the likelihood of a potential attack on Japan.

Second, it proposes to expand defense spending within five years, with a target of ‘at least 2 per cent of GDP’ . This is in other words a declaration to double defense spending. Such an expansionary stance by Japan would accelerate the arms race in Asia. In the first place, the very stance of setting an increase in defense spending as a political goal is incompatible with the pursuit of an effective defense and security policy. Various wasteful and opaque practices have been pointed out in contracts between the Japanese government and the defense industry, and in the introduction of weapons from the US. Correcting these problems must be the first priority.

Third, it calls for a review of the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, and to consider the provision of lethal weapons to countries undergoing aggression, in a way that “allows for the transfer of equipment in a wide range of fields”. This is an abandonment of the principle of ‘not aggravating conflict’, which is the cornerstone of Japan’s arms export control policy maintained under the Constitution. It is extremely likely that such a change would lead to a situation of arbitrary interpretations going unchecked. It is unacceptable that people could be killed or injured by weapons exported by Japan.

To propose such a policy of military expansion at a time when people are feeling insecure because of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is a highly inflammatory and provocative act. Such policies in the name of strengthening deterrence would actually create distrust of Japan’s pacifism, provoke neighbouring countries militarily and consequently increase the risk of war.

The COVID-19 pandemic which has persisted over more than two years has left Japan’s society and economy in the same state of exhaustion as the rest of the world. The expansion of healthcare and welfare and measures to address inequality and poverty are the most urgent needs. A prolonged war in Ukraine could have further negative social and economic consequences. Money must now go to serve the people, not to weapons.

The fact that the ruling LDP has issued such a proposal will have a major impact on the revision of security policy by the Government. What is, however, required of Japan now is not to stir up an arms race, but diplomacy for mutual disarmament and easing of tensions with neighbouring countries, and efforts to restore international law and order, with the United Nations at the core. The LDP proposal must not be taken as a given. Rather, we call for a calm and broad-based debate by both the ruling and opposition parties, returning to the fundamentals of diplomacy and security based on the Peace Constitution.

ABE Koki, Professor, Meijigakuin University
AKIBAYASHI Kozue, Professor, Doshisha University
AMAMIYA Karin, Author and activist
AOI Miho, Professor, Gakushuin University
HISHIYAMA Nahoko, Secretary General, Citizens’ Liaison Group against Constitutional Reform
IKEUCHI Satoru, Professor Emeritus, Nagoya University
ITO Kazuko, Lawyer, Vice President, Human Rights Now
KAWASAKI Akira, Executive Committee member, Peace Boat
KIYOSUE Aisa, Professor, Muroran Institute of Technology
KURITA Yoshiko, Professor, Chiba University
MATSUI Yoshiro, Professor Emeritus、Nagoya University
MIZUSHIMA Asaho, Professor, Waseda University
MOTOYAMA Jinshiro, Former Representative of “Henoko” Okinawa Prefectural Referendum Committee, Ph.D Course Students of Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University
NAKANO Koichi, Professor, Sophia University
NISHIKAWA Junko, Professor Emeritus , Dokkyo University
OKANO Yayo, Professor, Doshisha University
OKUMOTO Kyoko, Professor, Osaka Jogakuin University
SHIDA Yoko, Professor, Musashino Art University
SUGIHARA Koji, Representative, Network Against Japan Arms Trade (NAJAT)
TANAKA Terumi, Co-Chairperson, Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo)
TAKATO Nahoko, Iraq Humanitarian Aid Worker
UTSUMI Aiko,  Visiting Research Fellow, Waseda University Institute of Peace Studies

(In alphabetical order)

For enquiries regarding this statement please contact shudantekijieiken@gmail.com