37. The Cabinet Decision of July 2014: the Basis of the Security Legislation


9 September 2016


What underlies the Security Legislation is the Cabinet Decision on July 1, 2014, on the “Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan’s Survival and Protect its People.” This Cabinet Decision was based on discussions among the ruling parties, namely the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito, following the publication of a report by the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security on May 15, 2014. 


     The preface to the eight-page long Cabinet Decision states that “Japan must continue...to further fortify” its position as a peace-loving nation, which was established after the end of World War II. It then emphasizes the necessity “to adapt to the changes in the security environment surrounding Japan,” and goes on to promise to “enhanc[e] the deterrence of the Japan-United States Alliance” and pursue the policy of a “Proactive Contribution to Peace.” 


     The main text consists of three parts.


     The first part on the “Response to an Infringement that Does Not Amount to an Armed Attack” deals with the so-called “grey zone” situations, meaning situations between war and peace. The text states that procedures will be accelerated so that Self-Defense Forces (SDF) can be mobilized for public security operations or maritime security operations when responding to infringements, for instance, in areas surrounding remote islands, implying those islands involved in territorial disputes. This part also mentions that the use of weapons will be enabled for the protection of United States’ armed forces.


     The second part, “Further Contributions to the Peace and Stability of the International Community,” aims at expanding the areas in which the SDF can operate, in terms of activities supporting United States armed forces and multinational forces, and also in terms of United Nations peace keeping operations (PKOs). By altering the previous—and rather limiting—understanding of the theory of “Ittaika with the use of force” (the concept that Japan’s logistics support should not form an “integral part” of any use of force), the new policy allows the SDF to operate in various areas, as long as they are not “where combat activities are actually being conducted.” (Previously, the SDF’s operations were limited to areas defined as “non-combat area[s],” but such an advanced definition is not needed any more.) At the same time, while the use of weapons by the SDF has been restricted to only being allowed to protect themselves and their weapons, their use is now allowed to aid those units or personnel under attack (“Kaketsuke-keigo”) and “for the purpose of the execution of missions,” such as security missions in conflict areas. The government admits that, to some extent, this is a shift in how the SDF are allowed to use their weapons from a use that is interpreted as being “passive” to one that is “active.”


     The third part, “Measures for Self-Defense Permitted under Article 9 of the Constitution,” shifts the view the Government had consistently expressed since 1972—that “the Right of Collective Self-Defense is not permitted”—propounds the concept that the Right of Collective Self-Defense is permitted under certain conditions. It defines the “Three New Conditions” under which the use of force will be permitted as measures for self-defense. According to these conditions, the use of force is permitted even in the absence of an armed attack against Japan, if and when an armed attack against a foreign country (“a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan”) occurs and as a result “threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to fundamentally overturn people’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” This is the basis of what has come to define the “conditions that threaten Japan’s existence” (“Sonritsu-kiki-jitai”) in the Security Legislation.




Akira Kawasaki,

Executive Committee member, Peace Boat



Cabinet Decision on Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan’s Survival and Protect its People (July 1, 2014)



Report of the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security (May 15, 2014)