The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 8 July 2014

by TRG Alerts Admin on July 8, 2014

The Rendon Group Snapshot Report



Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at or +1-202-745-4900.


Japan’s collective self-defense

Source: Kyodo News

This week’s snapshot focuses on Japan’s reinterpretation of its pacifist Constitution regarding the use of self-defense forces. Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution renounced the use of military force in 1947, except for self-defense in a direct threat against Japan. However, on 30JUN14, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed through a reform of the article, allowing for the right to collective self-defense. This gives the military the right to intervene to protect allies. The heated debate over the reform caused protests in the country and displeasure from Japan’s Asian neighbors, as it was perceived to usher in an age of rising Japanese militarism and potentially even of regional ambition.


News Summary of events during the week of 30JUN-06JUL:

  • On 30JUN14, Japan’s ruling coalition government approved a change of the Constitution to allow the use of collective self-defense by broadening the range of actions the military would be allowed to undertake. (Kyodo)
  • On 30JUN14, major newspapers published poll results showing that 54% of Japanese people opposed the reinterpretation of self-defense. (Xinhua)
  • On 01JUL14, US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy told FM Fumio Kishida on that she approved of the Cabinet’s decision to allow the right to collective self-defense.(Yonhap)
  • On 01JUL14, about 10,000 people protested near the prime minister’s office in Tokyo to oppose the decision. (Kyodo)
  • On 02JUL14, Japan launched a special team under the National Security Secretariat to prepare relevant legislation for exercising the collective self-defense right. (Xinhua)
  • On 03JUL14, the Japanese Mayor of the Mie Prefecture said he is planning to file a lawsuit over the Cabinet’s decision to allow Japan to use the UN right to collective self-defense, because he believes it is unconstitutional. (Kyodo)
  • On 04JUL14, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun Hye expressed concerns about Japan’s move away from its pacifist constitution (Yonhap).
  • On 05JUL14, a government source said a law revision was being considered to allow weapons to be used to protect US military vessels during peacetime cooperation in surveillance and exercises with Japan. (Kyodo)


Sample of Twitter handles regarding Japan’s collective self-defense:

@JapAnDrewDC – Andrew Hill, Japan Studies research associate, Council on Foreign Relations

@DanielPAldrich – Daniel P. Aldrich, Associate professor, Purdue Unversity

@facklernyt – Martin Fackler, Tokyo bureau chief, New York Times

@W7VOA – Steve Herman, Broadcast correspondent in Asia since 1990 (postings in Japan, India, Korea & now Thailand). Shorty Awards, Best Journalist in Social Media, 2014 Finalist.

@TokyoWoods – Yuka Hayashi, Tokyo correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. I write about economy, foreign policy and politics.



Sample of Third Party Validators regarding Japan’s collective self-defense:


Jeff Kingston, Head of Asia studies, Temple University, Tokyo

“Abe is like a thief in the night sneaking in the backdoor to steal the heart and soul of Japan’s constitution and that’s why he has provoked such a strong backlash and anger — because Article 9 is a touchstone of national identity.”

–       Will Japan’s Democracy Survive Abe?, Bloomberg, 03JUL14


Bruce Bennet, Senior Defense Analyst, RAND Corporation

“In short, with its collective self-defense policy, Japan assumes its responsibilities to support the defense of South Korea and regional security in general, an appropriate action given the economic and other independencies of the regional countries.”

–       Why Japan’s Military Shift Is Necessary for South Korea, The Wall Street Journal, 04JUL14


Gerry Curtis, Professor of political science, Columbia University

“Conservative governments have pushed the envelope hard and often to get the public to agree to a more elastic interpretation of article 9. Abe is taking a bigger leap and getting away with it, thanks to the Chinese.”

–       Japan takes historic step from post-war pacifism, OKs fighting for allies, Reuters, 01JUL14


Takeshi Ishida, Professor emeritus, Tokyo University

“What Abe is doing is destroying the principles of our pacifist constitution. Not killing anyone abroad is, in a sense, a precious part of our heritage. Why should we have to throw it away on the orders of one man rather than through the will of the people?”

–       Japanese pacifists unnerved by lifting of ban on military intervention, The Guardian, 01JUL14


Kazuhisa Kawakami, Political Expert, Meiji Gakuin University

“The growing pressure from China has changed the political debate within Japan.”

–       Japan Announces a Military Shift to Thwart China, New York Times, 01JUL14



Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to Japan’s collective self-defense:


1.  Japan split as nation mulls end of pacifism

Media: CNN
Byline: Euan McKirdy

Date: 02 July 2014


(CNN) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s timing was impeccable: July 1 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF), the de-fanged fighting force that has protected the country since its creation from the ashes of post-World War II Japan.


Following the announcement, it is also the day that, some would argue, the name ceased to have any meaning.


Abe’s government, mindful of looming regional security threats to Japan and its neighbors, has allowed the “reinterpretation” of the country’s pacifist postwar constitution to reflect what he sees as necessary pivots to meet the 21st century security challenges that the nation faces.


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2. U.S. expresses full support for Japan’s collective self-defense right


Media: Yonhap (South Korea)

Byline: Chang Jae-soon

Date: 01 July 2014


WASHINGTON, July 1 (Yonhap) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed full support Tuesday for Japan’s decision to exercise its right to “collective self-defense,” saying the move paved the way for the Asian ally to “engage in a wider range of operations.”


Collective self-defense, one of the nationalistic agenda items that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pursued, empowers Japan to fight alongside its allies, something that has been considered beyond the scope of its war-renouncing constitution.


Critics have denounced Japan’s move as a precursor to ultimately amending the country’s pacifist constitution. Seoul and Beijing view the move warily as it calls to mind Japan’s past militarism amid concerns that the power could be misused.


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3. Italian press calls Japan’s collective self-defense ‘end of pacifism’


Media: Xinhua (China)

Byline: Marzia De Giuli

Date: 02 July 2014


ROME, July 2 (Xinhua) – The Italian press on Wednesday defined the Japanese government’s move to allow exercise of the collective self-defense right as the end of pacifism in the country.


“Pacifism goodbye” was the title of an article published by economic newspaper II Sole 24 Ore, while Corriere della Sera, the largest circulation daily in Italy, wrote “the pacifist era has run out in Japan.”


The Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday ratified reinterpretation of the country’s pacifist constitution, which triggered concerns both at home and overseas, Corriere della Sera noted.


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4. S. Korea parliament committee raps Japan’s collective self-defense move


Media: Kyodo (Japan)

Byline: N/A

Date: 04 July 2014


A South Korean parliamentary committee on Friday adopted a resolution criticizing Japan’s decision to reinterpret its pacifist Constitution in such a way as to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense.


Japan’s move “explicitly lays bare its intention to become a military giant,” says the resolution adopted by the committee on Northeast Asian history affairs.


The committee also adopted a resolution rapping Japan’s review into the background of its 1993 landmark apology to women forced to work in wartime military brothels.


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5. Japan poised to ease constitution’s limits on military in landmark shift

Media: Reuters

Byline: Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka

Date: 30 June 2014


TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s cabinet is expected on Tuesday to end a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since World War Two, a major shift away from post-war pacifism and a political victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has pursued the change despite some public opposition.


The move, seen by some as the biggest shift in defense policy since Japan set up its post-war armed forces in 1954, would end a ban on exercising “collective self-defense”, or aiding a friendly country under attack.


It would also relax limits on activities in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations and “grey zone” incidents that fall short of full-scale war, according to a draft cabinet resolution.


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