chapter  8
27 Pages

JAPAN’S OPTIONS FOR THE FUTURE

It is not always easy to discern what the official view in Japan is with regard to the future of Japanese defence commitments at home and abroad. Statements by government officials and members of the Cabinet have been often conflicting and evasive. Even on important issues such as the revision of the Constitution, no clearcut policy seems to have emerged. For instance, on 27 August 1980 Justice Minister Seisuke Okuno told the Diet that ‘he wanted the controversial war-renouncing Article 9 of the present Constitution to be revised or totally dropped’.1 A similar remark was made earlier by Yoshio Sakurauchi, the Secretary-General of the LDP, the party in power. The same evening Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki told newspaper reporters that the government would ‘strictly and sincerely’ adhere to the Constitution irrespective of the ‘personal’ views of Cabinet members and the party leader.2 In spite of a categorical statement by the Prime Minister, Okuno reiterated the need for a revision of the Constitution in February 1981 and added that the LDP may propose an amendment to the Constitution in the campaign for the 1983 Upper House election. In his view, the LDP as a whole favoured a revision of the Constitution. Commenting on Okuno’s statement, the Prime Minister once again confirmed that ‘his administration has no plans to propose an amendment to the war-renouncing Constitution in the 1983 House of Councillors election campaign’.3 Similarly, on the question of Japan’s participation in UN peace-keeping activities abroad, in August 1980 Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ito contradicted the views of senior officials of his own ministry, who had suggested earlier that ‘the sending of SDF men could not be ruled out in the future’.4 Ito suggested that the ‘Japanese government was not considering sending and cannot send under the existing law, Self-Defense Force men abroad for United Nations peace-keeping activity’.5 However, the Cabinet clarified the issue further on 28 October 1980 by saying that it would be unconstitutional for the SDF to take part in UN peace-keeping forces if their duties involved military action but ‘the participation of the Self-Defense Forces in UN forces is not forbidden under the Constitution if their purpose and duties do not involve military action’.6