Abe seeks to protect U.S. vessels
2:00 am, June 29, 2015
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The following is an explanation of the situations in which Japan would exercise the right of collective self-defense.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised an impor-tant question on whether the current security-related bills would allow Japan to protect U.S. military vessels during a session of the House of Representatives special committee on the legislation for peace and security on Friday.
“If U.S. military vessels conducting surveillance activities for Japan were attacked, Japan would be unable to protect them unless the nation itself were under attack. Is this really appropriate?” Abe said.
The security-related legislation currently stipulates that the protection of U.S. military vessels is prohibited except in contingency situations, a directive aimed at addressing contingencies on the Korean Peninsula. If the risk of North Korea firing a ballistic missile increases, it is highly possible that U.S. forces will deploy Aegis-equipped warships in high seas to intercept the missile and prevent it from striking Guam or Hawaii.
“North Korea, which has always used intimidation by alluding to how Japan will be consumed in a sea of flames, will target U.S. forces stationed in Japan as well,” said a senior Defense Ministry official. In this respect, the protection of U.S. military vessels is seen as directly linked to issues of national security.
The surveillance capabilities of Aegis-equipped warships are lowered when the vessels are in missile interception mode, making it vulnerable to threats posed by antiship missiles and fighter jets. The Japanese government anticipates situations in which the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyers must protect U.S. warships during such moments.
Another example that the prime minister has often raised is the protection of U.S. military vessels carrying Japanese nationals being evacuated from the Korean Peninsula in the event of a contingency.
In such circumstances, the actions of the Self-Defense Forces could constitute the use of force in an armed conflict. Unless Japan exercises its right of collective self-defense, SDF vessels can do nothing, even if U.S. vessels nearby are being attacked. But opposition party members have voiced objections, saying civilians are unlikely to evacuate aboard military vessels.
The security-related bills in question also stipulate that Japan is permitted to protect weapons and other equipment of U.S. forces even when an armed conflict has not occurred. This would enable the MSDF to protect U.S. military vessels engaged in surveillance activities when there is a heightened risk of North Korea firing missiles.
Source : The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) (Japon)
Relayé par H.G