January 31, 2018 – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested during a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting yesterday that his proposal to add a paragraph to Article 9 of the Constitution on the existence of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces while keeping the current two paragraphs would not change the government’s “limited” approval of exercising the right to collective self-defense.
Asked about the proposed revision to Article 9, which is made up of war-renouncing paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 that bans Japan from possessing any war potential, Abe told the meeting, “I don’t believe the ‘full-spec’ use of the right to collective self-defense would be allowed,” suggesting that even if his proposal for the revision came true, the scope of the right to collective self-defense would not deviate from the July 2014 interpretation of the supreme law by the Abe administration, which serves as the basis for the controversial security-related laws.
Abe emphasized that under his proposal, restrictions on the use of force would still be effective since the second paragraph would be retained. He pointed out that removing paragraph 2, a goal persistently held among some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, could lead to a full approval of the use of the right to collective self-defense. His response came after a question raised by opposition lawmaker Kazuhiro Haraguchi.
Meanwhile, on the subsidy fraud scandal involving a supercomputer developer, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told the Diet panel that at the moment no politician has been confirmed to have been involved in the decision to aid the venture company. He added that after contacting 56 outside experts who were engaged in the screening of funding to the company, 52 who could be reached said there was no lobbying from lawmakers or economy ministry officials to have funds granted. Seko spoke on the matter in response to Party of Hope member Masato Imai.
Regarding the heavily discounted sale of a state-owned land lot to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, Financial Bureau chief Mitsuru Ota of the Finance Ministry denied once again during the Jan. 30 Diet committee meeting that any pre-negotiations over the price of the property in Osaka Prefecture took place.
His comment came after it came to light that the Kinki Local Finance Bureau had stated in an in-house document in December 2015 that it “would work on coordinating the price (with the school corporation) in advance” of the sale. Ota pointed out that the document was made before additional underground waste was discovered at the property in 2016, saying that it had nothing to do with the actual sale of the land.