Japan Lifts Ban on Collective Self Defense

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the end of a constitutional ban on Japanese troops fighting abroad Tuesday, marking the end of the so-called “collective self defense” ban in place since 1945. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in a July 1 statement, said the move would enable Japanese forces to “engage in a wider range or operations, and make the US-Japan alliance even more effective.” The policy also complements efforts to modernize the alliance. Hagel said he would discuss the decision with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in Washington next week. The change widens Japan’s military options in crises, and could allow Japanese forces to respond to attacks on allies, such as aiding US forces under attack. In his announcement, Abe called the change a “defensive measure” meant to defend the Japanese people, reported Japan Today. He also said it would not lead to the “use of force in order to defend foreign forces.” The change allows Japan to participate more easily in military exercises with countries other than the US, as well as United Nations peacekeeping operations. The US has been supportive of the pending change, but both China and South Korea have been openly wary of Abe’s proposed changes. “We are opposed to Japan’s pursuit of its domestic political goal by deliberately making up the so-called ‘China threat’,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday, adding China urges the Japanese to respect the “security concerns of its Asian neighbors.”