TOKYO — Attention is being focused on whether to grant Japan’s self-defense forces more authority to use weapons during international cooperation activities, in talks on new legal arrangements on national security between the ruling coalition parties.
While the ruling Liberal Democratic Party wants to relax restrictions for SDF troops on the use of weapons to expand their activities overseas, its junior coalition partner Komeito remains cautious, wondering if the change complies with the Constitution and if it will bring more danger to SDF members.
According to experts, the use of weapons could be put into two categories: “self-preservation,” namely, minimal use of weapons by SDF members to protect their lives and people under their control; and “mission execution,” or using weapons by SDF members to eliminate resistance in carrying out their mission with warning shots and other actions.
So far, only use of weapons under the self-preservation category has been allowed in principle for SDF members. However, since the Cabinet decided last year to expand SDF activities abroad, expansion of the self-preservation category and creation of the mission execution category are being discussed in the talks between the ruling parties.