February 10, 2017
“Because otherwise it would be problematic in light of Article 9,” the Defense Minister admitted regarding why the Abe government replaces the term “combat” with “clash”.
On February 8 at a Lower House committee meeting, Defense Minister Inada Tomomi said point-blank, “We should not use the word (i.e. combat) that could become a constitutional issue.”
The government has been deploying the Ground Self-Defense Forces, whose use of force abroad is prohibited under the Constitution, in South Sudan where fighting is taking place. While creating an unconstitutional state of affairs, the present regime avoids the term “combat” as if the unconstitutional action would then become constitutional.
A major battle between government and anti-government forces broke out in the South Sudanese capital of Juba in June last year, killing and injuring more than 270 people. The Defense Minister at that time downplayed the conflict and described it as a “sporadic shooting incident”.
However, the daily reports the GSDF in Juba kept have recently been “discovered”. The documents describe the serious situation there noting “fierce battles with the use of armored tanks and artillery” and the “suspension of UN activities due to the intensified local fighting”.
This is not only a matter of constitutionality but also a matter of putting at risk the lives of GSDF personnel. Without taking their graphic accounts seriously, the Cabinet Ministers in Tokyo repeated their claim that no battles are taking place in South Sudan. This is like a child saying, “See? Close your eyes, and the world disappears.”
The GSDF daily reports that came to light offer a glimpse into the situation on the ground as much of the information provided is blacked out. It is necessary to uncover all the details and let the public know what is acutally happening in South Sudan.
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The Defense Ministry on February 8 announced that the Joint Staff Office knew of the existence of the daily reports in question in December last year. It said that the JSO had intentionally withheld the reports because it had to first censor the data. The Ministry claims that the documents have been already thrown away.