TOKYO, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Former Japanese defense minister continued to question Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's approach to changing the postwar constitution, saying on Wednesday his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) needs to better clarify the situation regarding the nation's Self-Defense Forces (SDF).
Speaking at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Shigeru Ishiba said simply adding the existence of the SDF in the constitution would not lead to its legitimacy as a "military".
"It's not just enough to write down the existence of the SDF in the constitution," said the veteran LDP lawmaker, who is widely regarded as Abe's biggest potential rival for the LDP's leadership.
He was referring to Abe's proposal to keep the current paragraphs of the war-renouncing Article 9 in the constitution, but adding a specific reference to the SDF so that their existence, expanded roles and geographical scope can no longer be deemed unconstitutional.
Article 9 of Japan's pacifist Constitution currently states that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes." It goes on to state that... "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."
To date since it being sanctioned at the end of Word War II, the pacifist charter has been interpreted by the government as not prohibiting Japan from maintaining forces of a strictly defensive nature. But further interpretations during Abe's tenure have led to new, controversial security legislation which allows for an expanded operational scope of the SDF.
Ishiba contends however that merely appending a paragraph that recognizes the existence of the SDF does not clarify its status constitutionally and as such the same inherent contradictions to Japan maintaining a military would remain.
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