by Jon Day
TOKYO, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Following the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe deciding to allow Japan's forces the right to exercise collective self-defense in some situations despite monumental national protests on Tuesday, both opposition parties and members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations have called on the government to retract its decision.
According to local media Wednesday, along with the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) jointly called for the retraction, saying the government's decision to forge ahead with allowing the country the right to exercise collective self-defense ignores the significance of both the Diet and the public.
Rather than lawfully amending Japan's Constitution and particularly its Article 9 war-renouncing clause, which requires Abe to garner a majority vote in a public referendum and at least two-thirds support in both chambers of parliament, Abe sought to circumnavigate this constitutional procedure, and simply have his cabinet green light his plans for collective self-defense, by way of reinterpreting the current Constitution.
The war-renouncing Article 9 section of Japan's Constitution, which has remained unchanged since its adoption in 1947, forbids the use of force as a means of settling international disputes and also prohibits Japan from maintaining an army, navy or air force.
The Cabinet's approval on Tuesday of reinterpreting the Constitution and allowing Japan's forces to be deployed overseas in certain combat situations, such as defending a close ally, may also include deployments led by the United Nations.
Upping the scope to defend Japanese shores is also a given, under the most dramatic military policy shift the industrialized world has seen in modern history, based on exponential budgetary increases for the defense ministry here, with allocations in place to add more hardware to its ground, sea and air force, as well as boost the number of its military personnel.
Opposition party leaders remain concerned that future reinterpretation of the Constitution, or new legislation, currently in the works, to allow Japanese forces a broader scope in military arenas, could present a problem as there are no checks and balances at the moment to prevent this from happening on multiple occasions.
Main opposition DPJ leader Banri Kaieda said that his party was seeking the retraction because, not only does the Cabinet decision ignore the Diet and the public, but once the exercise of collective self-defense is allowed "there will be no brake effectively, and it deviates significantly from an exclusively defense-oriented policy."
Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii called the Cabinet's approval "a coup that destroys the Constitution," while the SDP leader, Tadatomo Yoshida, also insisting on a retraction, stated that he would make "all out efforts" to prevent Japanese forces from exercising force overseas.
In addition, Japan Restoration Party officials have also been critical of Abe's government for failing to provide enough information to the public on the issue, with recent polls showing that 55 percent of the public oppose Japan engaging in collective self-defense, and almost 60 percent oppose Abe achieving this by changing the government's interpretation of the Constitution,
Secretary General of the JRP Yorihisa Matsuno said it is " outrageous" that the Cabinet endorsed the major change immediately after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito party, agreed on the matter.
"Citizens are concerned that Japan may be eventually embroiled in a war and this is obviously due to the lack of a government explanation," Matsuno was quoted as saying.
Members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations were also up in arms about the Cabinet's decision, according to local media Wednesday, with them also calling on the government to officially retract its decision to allow the country the right to exercise collective self-defense.
According to a statement issued by the federation to protest the Cabinet decision, the government, itself bound by the Constitution, has sought to change Article 9 by a Cabinet decision, without taking the matter to the people.
The official statement added that "this fundamentally runs counter to the principles of constitutionalism."
According to the federation, all of Japan's 52 bar associations are against the change and the federation will stand opposed to any revisions of laws pertaining to the Self-Defense Forces and other connected legislation, that Abe is hurriedly cobbling together, needed to enact military policy change.
The federation said it would also carry out campaigns on the streets, to bring more awareness to the public to further pressure the government to retract its potentially minacious decision.
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