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Zenroren strongly protests against Cabinet decision on war legislation

Statement by
INOUE Hisashi
Secretary General of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)

May 14, 2015

Prime Minister ABE Shinzo’s Cabinet approved a set of 10 bills as “Peace and Security Legislation” completely in disregard of people’s strong opposition and concerns. The legislation includes bills to revise the laws on contingency, including the law to deal with emergencies caused by outside attacks, and the Law on the Self-Defense Forces, and to establish a law on Japan’s support to international peace (which would be a new permanent law to assist U.S. and other foreign forces in combat). The bills contain such words as “peace” and “security” everywhere in the bills, but they constitute war legislation, which we must not overlook. We strongly protest against the legislation.

Firstly, the bills would pave the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, which has been banned by the Constitution and regarded by successive governments as inapplicable. Prime Minister Abe in the Diet has never denied that Japan would use the right to collective self-defense in the event of pre-emptive attack being launched by U.S. forces. Even though Japan has not been attacked militarily, the Self-Defense Forces could be deployed globally to be integrated with U.S. forces in using force if the administration determines that the country’s existence has been threatened and if there is clear danger the people’s right to life, freedom and pursuit of happiness is jeopardized.

Secondly, the legislation would abandon the concept of what the government has called “rear area support” (=logistic support) and enable Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to support U.S. and other foreign forces. It would also break with the concept of “contingencies in surrounding areas” so that the Self-Defense Forces can be sent to battlefields. The Self-Defense Forces would undertake the transportation of munitions and other supplies as well as troops for US forces, an act that is an integral part of the use of force. SDF troops would be allowed use arms if they have come under attack.

Thirdly, the legislation would adversely revise the Act on Cooperation in the U.N. Peace Keeping Operations (known as the PKO law) to make it legal to deploy SFD troops to coalition of the willing operations without U.N. resolution. It has in mind possible participation in activities of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in Afghanistan. But the fact is that ISAF activities to maintain security have not been carried out without causing casualties. In this sense, this legislation will certainly force Japanese young people to fight in battlefields and die.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have already agreed on these arrangements in the revised guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation. The Japanese prime minister has promised the U.S. to get the security bills enacted by this summer. This extraordinary subservience to the U.S. has a serious bearing on Japan’s national sovereignty. With the Self-Defense Forces further integrated with the U.S. Forces under the “defense cooperation guidelines”, the danger of Japan rushing to war is increasing. What’s more, the Abe administration is trying to deceive the public by using such terms as “peace” and “security.” It is aiming to get the set of bills enacted in a short time. We must not condone it for the sake of parliamentary democracy.

Zenroren is will do all it can to get the war legislation scrapped by the force of public opinion and common actions in support of the task that is crucial for the future of Japan.

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