Statement on the Japanese Government's Draft Act on Special Measures against Terrorism
1. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, deprived over 6,000 people of their lives in an instant. Such cruel and inhumane acts of terrorism are damnable crimes, ones that are wholly unforgivable for the great violation of the human rights of its victims that they represent. I therefore wish to express here my deepest condolences on behalf of all members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to the victims of these attacks and their families.
The response of the international community to such terrorist crimes must be undertaken jointly. We must work together to identify the perpetrators and those other individuals behind these acts and conduct fair judicial proceedings against them in an international tribunal based upon the Charter of the United Nations and founded in international law. It is important that all measures adopted by the international community to eradicate terrorism be implemented through a cooperative effort.
With its Constitution prohibiting the threat or use of armed forces, Japan should take the utmost initiative toward promoting such cooperation in the international community.
2. The Japanese government submitted a bill containing its Draft Act on Special Measures against Terrorism on October 5, 2001. This bill provides for Japanese cooperation with the military activities of the United States and other foreign countries. It would permit the Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) to transport weapons and bombs, conduct search and rescue operations for those injured while engaging in military activities, and offer support to those living in distressed areas. The Draft Act differs from the Law Relating to Measures for Preserving the Peace and Security of Japan in the Event of a Situation in the Areas Surrounding Japan (1999) in that it allows the SDF to operate on foreign territory, relaxes restrictions on use of weapons by SDF members, and does not require Diet approval for either providing such support for those engaged in military activities or making decisions on the government's basic plans with respect to such cooperative actions.
Any actions undertaken by the Japanese government against terrorism and terrorist groups, including support for any foreign military response, clearly are subject to and must be based on Japan's Constitution.
According to standards of modern warfare, any activities such as the transportation of weapons and bombs that the SDF might engage in not only on the high seas but also in foreign territories near a war zone could be recognized by the opponent as a logistical operation inseparable from an armed action. Search and rescue operations to aid injured combatants as well as the construction of and providing security for field hospitals could also be deemed as inseparable from engaging in armed action even if they are to be conducted outside of a war zone. Engaging in such activities by their very nature calls for close coordination with respect to time and place to any armed action, making the former almost indistinguishable from the latter even though such operations are to be conducted outside of a combat zone.
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution stipulates Japan's eternal renouncement of war as a sovereign right of the nation as well as the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. It also declares that Japan will not possess any military forces and relinquishes the right to belligerency.
We are concerned that the Draft Act is inconsistent with the prohibition on engagement in armed action provided for in Article 9.
We therefore call attention to the existence of serious constitutional problems in the Draft Act on Special Measures against Terrorism as noted above and request that the Diet give due care to its deliberations so as to not make an ill-considered interpretation of our Constitution.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
October 12, 2001