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Japan Premier Wins Accord for Military Review

Asia: Study aims to break taboos on action not directly involving the country's defense.

May 14, 1996|From Reuters

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto won agreement Monday from his coalition partners to carry out a military review aimed at breaking long-standing taboos on action not directly involving the country's defense.

The proposal for the review, which will focus on the so-called 1978 Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, could have brought down Hashimoto's government if the coalition partners had not agreed to it.

The review will be carried out by the Foreign Ministry, Defense Agency and Cabinet Security Affairs Office.

Hashimoto, president of the dominant coalition partner, the Liberal Democratic Party, met the heads of the two other ruling parties, Tomiichi Murayama of the Social Democratic Party and Masayoshi Takemura of the New Party Harbinger, for several hours before they agreed to the review.

The sticking point was Murayama and Takemura's insistence that the review should not in any way infringe on Japan's pacifist constitution or get Japan into any collective security arrangement.

Government sources said the prime minister told his partners that the review will consider topics such as rescuing Japanese nationals overseas and accepting refugees.

They said Hashimoto for the time being ruled out venturing into the controversial use of the right of collective self-defense.

The government sees it as going against the constitution, which bans the use of force in settling international conflicts.

Small numbers of Japanese military personnel have served in Cambodia, Rwanda and the Middle East as part of United Nations units.

They have done so, however, in humanitarian or logistic roles.

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