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Japanese editorial excerpts -2-.

TOKYO, Dec. 5 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

THE PACIFIST 'LOGIC' IS FALLACIOUS (The Daily Yomiuri as translated from the Yomiuri Shimbun)

The government has decided to dispatch abroad a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) Aegis-equipped destroyer. The decision to dispatch the vessel was a sensible one, albeit overdue...

The Aegis ship will be dispatched later this month to replace one of the destroyers now in operation in the Indian Ocean.

The Aegis ship is a high-tech vessel capable of gathering and analyzing data. It also is capable of detecting terrorist attacks against a fleet of vessels at an early stage...

From the viewpoint not only of securing the safety of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel operating in the Indian Ocean, but also to enhance the effectiveness of the support activities for the U.S. forces in operation, there was no reason for the government to hesitate over sending the vessel.

The decision to dispatch an Aegis vessel came so late because of strong opposition from the New Komeito, one of the three ruling coalition parties, and some officials of other ruling parties, including former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Hiromu Nonaka.

At a meeting of its executives Wednesday, the New Komeito unanimously decided to oppose the dispatch of an Aegis ship, saying the idea had yet to win sufficient public understanding. This is a line of logic that the New Komeito often has taken in a bid to limit SDF activities.

But the task of winning the public's understanding -- if necessary -- concerning the dispatch of an Aegis vessel, is what any responsible political party should undertake. The fact that the New Komeito merely cited what it claimed was a lack of public consensus on the Aegis dispatch as the reason it opposed sending the ship instead of making an effort to generate such a consensus shows that it lacks responsibility as a political party.

Another reason for opposing the dispatch, according to New Komeito and ruling party officials, including Nonaka, was that if the intelligence gathered by Japan's Aegis vessel was shared by the U.S. fleet to help it plan military attacks, this might be interpreted as Japan's exercising its right to collective self-defense, an act they say is forbidden by the war-renouncing Constitution.

The network system under which intelligence gathered by Japan's Aegis vessel can be shared by the U.S. fleet already has been mounted on the MSDF destroyers now operating in the Indian Ocean.

If the possible exercising of the right of collective self-defense is to be questioned, it follows that Japan's dispatch of destroyers -- a fait accompli -- should be questioned...

The SDF's mission is to shoulder part of the antiterrorist operation being jointly undertaken by the international community.

Japan is duty-bound to extend active cooperation in this regard so that the international antiterrorism campaign does not fall apart.

The dispatch of an Aegis vessel is an issue that needs to be looked at coolheadedly from the perspective of whether the dispatch of such a vessel is necessary for Japan to carry out its logistic support activity. Political considerations should have no place in forming such a judgment.

It is high time that Japan stopped discussing national security from the perspective of a muddleheaded pacifism, whose adherents say protecting national security is fine as long as the SDF's activities are restrained.

(Dec. 5)
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Dec 9, 2002
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