Source: The head of the "advisory panel," News from Google.co.jp (accessing date: July 5, 2014)Abe justified the new interpretation noting the “increasingly severe” security environment in the region -- the Sino-Japanese territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Island necessitated changes to prior policies and practices. Before his press conference to the Japanese people, Abe briefed the ruling coalition on developments in security legislation:
I would just like to take this opportunity to make two remarks. The first is that today’s Cabinet decision does not in any way change the principles of the Constitution. In all cases, measures for self-defense will be limited to the minimum extent necessary. The second remark I would like to make is that today’s Cabinet decision is intended to allow all necessary steps to secure the lives and peaceful livelihood of the people under the existing Constitution. This is all about protecting the people. That is the one and only purpose of the Cabinet decision (emphasis added; Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet Website, July 1, 2014).
Abe’s statements can be described as false at best. Using the “China threat” Abe sought to camouflage his real intention to modify the constitution and build Japan’s military might (China Daily July 1, 2014) even though he did not mention China. To avoid international outcry and internal national hurdles, Abe chose not to change the constitution, but reinterpretation of the Article 9. In Japan, constitutional change requires a significant undertaking and may only occur with agreement of two thirds of the members of both houses plus the vote of the majority of the Japanese voters through a referendum. To circumvent these hurdles, reminiscent to his political maneuvering as a first term prime minister in 2007, Abe relied upon an “advisory panel” to promote his idea to the cabinet. As Craig Martin, a well-known scholar on international law and the use of armed force, and comparative constitutional law, points out, “This was a group with few lawyers, far less constitutional scholars, who were primarily selected for their hawkish views on national security. It was given a mandate to provide recommendations on how Article should be reinterpreted (Japan Times June 28, 2014).” The advisory panel relied primarily upon Goyōgakusha [scholars beholden to the government or self-serving academic scholars]. The end results that Japan’s Pacifist Constitution no longer exists because no vote by the Japanese government or adequate diet support (Tokyo Shimbun July 2, 2014).