21 October 2016
The Legislation for Peace and Security consists of 10 revised laws (the Self-Defense Forces Law, the PKO Law, the Emergency at the Periphery Law, and so on) and one new law (the International Peace Support Law). What kind of activity might the Self-Defense Forces be able to carry out with the enactment of these laws?
Primarily, the Self-Defense Forces would be allowed to actively participate in conflict situations which have not yet turned into a war (the so-called "gray zones").
First of all, in order to protect Japanese nationals living abroad, the Self-Defense Forces can conduct rescue work and use weapons beyond their roles in transportation. In addition, when they train jointly with other national militaries, they can use arms to protect the weaponry of other nation’s militaries. This takes into consideration joint training with the United States of America and Australia in the Pacific.
Secondly, the Self-Defense Forces will act in an “important influence situation” (a situation that has an important influence on Japan’s peace and security, such as a situation that might lead to a direct armed attack against Japan if left to itself) by changing the Law on a Situation in the Areas Surrounding Japan to the Important Influence Situation Law. Activity on "the opposite side of the earth" is legally possible because geographical limitations, which were in place and only applied to the area around Japan in the Law on a Situation in the Areas Surrounding Japan, have been eliminated.
Specifically, the Self-Defense Forces will be able to carry out logistics support, search and rescue operations, and ship inspection operations. The logistics support activities refer to military logistics, and the search and rescue operations indicate the search and rescue of military personnel.
Thirdly, the Self-Defense Forces will be able to take any necessary military action in a “survival threatening situation (when an armed attack against 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 the pursuit of happiness)” through the Situation Action Law. This is an issue of the right of collective self-defense. The government assumes situations such as the protection of United States’ ships and vessels and underwater mine-sweeping in the Strait of Hormuz.
Fourthly, there will be an expanding number of activities following the revision of the PKO law. The Self-Defense Forces will take on tasks to maintain peace and stability, in addition to humanitarian rescue operations and assistance in elections. Moreover, they will use weapons to come to the aid of geographically distant foreign units or personnel under attack. In any case, it is now more likely that the Self-Defense Forces will be involved in armed conflicts.
Moreover, the Self-Defense forces will participate in internationally coordinated operations for peace and security, a new category based on resolutions of international organizations (outside the U.N. PKO framework). Participation in organizations such as ISAF in Afghanistan is not excluded.
Fifthly, this new Legislation for Peace and Security will enable Japan to provide necessary logistics support to the armed forces of foreign countries who are collectively addressing a situation that threatens international peace and security. The dispatch of troops was only possible in the past with the passing of an individual law, but it has now become possible at any time through general or permanent laws such as the Legislation for Peace and Security.
From peacetime to wartime, from the area around Japan to the opposite side of the earth, from the protection of United States’ ships and vessels to participation in multinational force, the Legislation for Peace and Security is liable to transform the Self-Defense Forces into an "ordinary country's military forces," which allows them to seamlessly operate in any way at any time and anywhere.