Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 05/15/07

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1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule

4) Abe Cabinet support rate recovers to 43% in latest Asahi poll

North Korea problem:
5) Prime Minister Abe telephones President Bush to confirm that US
will continue to give consideration to abduction issue in deleting
North Korea from terror list
6) Abe aide admits Secretary Rice stated that abduction issue not a
condition for North Korea being on list of terrorist-sponsoring
7) Government confirms North Korea has new missile with striking
range that includes Guam

Constitutional revision:
8) National referendum bill passes Diet, setting procedures leading
to amending Constitution
9) Abe is out in front of his party in pushing constitutional
revision, for many in the LDP prefer to proceed cautiously
10) One Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) lawmaker, Watanabe,
will be punished for not voting with his party against the
referendum bill
11) Minshuto will be quiet on constitutional issues until the Upper
House election campaign
12) Many challenges for Abe administration before the Constitution
can actually be amended

Defense and security affairs:
13) Committee passes two-year extension of dispatch of ASDF for Iraq
reconstruction over objections of opposition parties
14) NLP at Atsugi Air Station after seven years brings out local
protests of noise pollution
15) On 35th anniversary of Okinawa reversion, a surprisingly
positive security message from Governor Nakaima
16) Prime Minister Abe raises questions about Cabinet Legislation
Bureau's interpretation of Constitution to ban use of right of
collective self-defense



Asahi & Tokyo Shimbun:
Referendum bill passes Diet: Momentum for Abe policy of revising
Constitution to accelerate

257 people's driver licenses revoked for reason of dementia

Government to set up panel on lowering age of majority to 18, with
passage of referendum bill

Nihon Keizai:
Cerberus purchases Chrysler for 900 billion yen

Passage of referendum bill might lead to reorganizing political

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LDP, New Komeito push referendum bill through Diet


(1) Passage of referendum bill: LDP must clarify detailed policies
on self-defense force and other details
(2) 35th anniversary of return of Okinawa to Japan: Young generation
groping for own ways

(1) Referendum bill clears Diet: Thorough debate necessary on
constitutional revision

(1) Passage of referendum bill: Time to start specific discussion on
constitutional reform

Nihon Keizai:
(1) Epoch-making referendum bill passes Diet
(2) Investors buy Chrysler

(1) Enactment of new constitution emerging as political challenge
(2) Digital program recording: Prepare regulations acceptable to

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Passage of referendum bill in Diet: Listen to views against
constitutional revision
(2) Criminal trial reform: Doubts growing about victims'

(1) Let's make utmost efforts to prevent constitutional revision

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, May 14

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
May 15, 2007

Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shimomura at the Kantei.

Lower House Iraq Reconstruction Assistance Special Committee

Government-ruling camp liaison council meeting at the Kantei.
Secretary General Nakagawa and head of the LDP Caucus in the Upper

House Mikio Aoki remained.

Met with Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Nemoto, followed by
LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Nakagawa.

Met with Vice MLIT Minister Tsuji, followed by Nemoto.

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Met with MEXT Minister Fuyushiba. Then met with Executive Council
Chairman Niwa, followed by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matoba.

Met with State Minister for National Security Koike.

Party executive meeting in the Diet.

Met with Kennedy Center President Kaiser at the Kantei.

Met with Lao Prime Minister Bouasone.

Telephoned US President Bush. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki,
Foreign Ministry North American Affairs Bureau Director General
Nishimiya and Middle East and African Affairs Bureau Director
General Okuda were present.

Arrived at the official residence.

4) Poll: Cabinet support rebounds to 43%

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
May 15, 2007

The rate of public support for Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet
was 43% in a telephone-based nationwide public opinion survey
conducted by the Asahi Shimbun on May 12-13. The nonsupport rate for
the Abe cabinet was 33%. In the last survey taken in April, the
support rate was 40%, with the nonsupport rate at 38%. Compared with
these figures, the nonsupport rate in the survey this time showed a
striking decrease. The cabinet support rate, which stayed low in the
early months of this year, rebounded in the last survey. This time,
the support and non-support margin has widened further.

The rate of male support for the Abe cabinet increased from 36% in
the last survey to 44% this time. The rate of female support was
42%. The rate of support among men topped that among women for the
first time since the Abe cabinet came into office in September last
year. The nonsupport rate decreased from the last survey in all age
brackets, and the support rate topped the nonsupport rate among all
generations but those in their 30s. The support rate among those
with no particular party affiliation was 27%, leveling off from the
last survey.

In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party stood at 33% (31% in the last survey), with
the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) at 14%
(14% in the last survey). The proportion of those with no particular
party affiliation was 45% (46% in the last survey).

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted over the telephone on
a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis. Respondents were
chosen from among the nation's voting population on a three-stage
random-sampling basis. Valid answers were obtained from 1,005
persons (57% ).

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5) Bush to consider abductions

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
May 15, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked with US President Bush over the
telephone yesterday evening for about 20 minutes. Abe and Bush
confirmed their intention to call on North Korea to completely carry
out the initial steps, such as shutting down and sealing
nuclear-related facilities, in compliance with an agreement reached
at the six-party talks. Bush reiterated that he would consider the
abduction issue in delisting North Korea as a terror sponsor.

The telephone conversation was held at Bush's request. In late
April, when Abe met with the president in the United States, Bush
told Abe that he wanted to hear about Abe's Middle East visit after
his US visit. In the talks yesterday, Abe and Bush agreed to ask
Iraq's neighbors to work together for Iraq's reconstruction. The two
also concurred on the importance of a peaceful solution to the issue
of Iran's nuclear development program. In addition, they also agreed
to step up bilateral cooperation on the issue of climate change,

In this connection, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura
revealed in a press conference yesterday that US Secretary of State
Rice, who was in the summit meeting in late April, had said that
resolving the abduction issue was not a legal precondition to delist
North Korea as a terror sponsor.

"The president and the secretary also said the United States would
continue to support Japan on the abduction issue," Shimomura said.
With this, he underscored that Japan and the United States were not
out of step. Yesterday's telephone talks appear to be aimed at
denying such a view.

6) Shimomura: Rice said that settlement of abduction issue not a
condition for delisting North Korea

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
May 15, 2007

During the Japan-US summit in late April, US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice explained regarding the US designation of North
Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, "In light of US law, it has
an act of terrorism against the United States in mind, and a
settlement of the issue of Japanese nationals abducted to the North
is not a condition for removing (North Korea) from our list (of
terrorism-sponsoring states)," Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
Hakubun Shimomura revealed in a press conference yesterday. The
Japanese government did not introduce Rice's statement in a press
conference held immediately after the summit in Washington.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a telephone conversation with US
President George W. Bush for about 20 minutes last night. Given the
fact that Rice indicated in the Japan-US summit in late April that a
settlement of the abduction issue was not a condition for delisting
(North Korea), Abe said to Bush: "The president's strong position is
truly encouraging." Abe and Bush agreed that it was regrettable that
North has yet to implement the initial steps, as was agreed upon in
the six-party talks (in February).

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7) Gov't confirms North Korea's new missile; Guam possibly within

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
May 15, 2007

North Korea showed a new intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)
for the first time in last month's parade that commemorated the 75th
anniversary of the Korean People's Army. In this regard, the
Japanese government has confirmed its existence, sources said
yesterday. The United States seems to have analyzed satellite images
and conveyed its analysis to Japan and South Korea. The new
missile's range is estimated at 3,000-5,000 kilometers. This
outranges the Rodong (1,300 km) and the Taepodong (over 1,500 km).
US bases on Guam are also within its range.

Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya, meeting the press yesterday,
avoided confirming that the information was from the United States.
However, Moriya said he was aware of North Korea's missile
development. "We will continue to pay close attention to their
development," Moriya stressed. Moriya indicated a negative view
about the possibility of tipping missiles with nuclear bombs. "I
can't say anything definite," Moriya said. "At this point," he
added, "we don't know whether they have acquired that capability."
The new missile is believed to be a remodeled submarine-launched
ballistic missile.

8) National referendum bill passes Diet; government to set up panel
on lowering age of majority to 18

YOMIURI (Top Play) (Full)
May 15, 2007

In response to the passage in the Diet of the national referendum
bill, which sets legal procedures for revising the Constitution, the
government has decided to establish in the Cabinet Office a "study
committee on review of provisions pertaining to the age for eligible
voters" (tentative name) tasked with discussing amendments to
relevant laws to lower the age of majority from the current 20 to
18. The panel, to be composed of vice ministers from each government
ministries and agencies with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Junzo
Matoba as chairman, will aim at completing necessary legislation by
2010, when the law goes into effect.

In a House of Councillors plenary session yesterday, the bill was
approved with a majority from the ruling coalition - the Liberal
Democratic Party and the New Komeito. The law sets the minimum age
for eligible voters at 18 or older in principle but will be 20 or
older until related laws such as the Public Offices Election Law are
revised. The law stipulates: "The government shall discuss relevant
provisions in the Public Offices Election Law, the Civil Law, and
other laws and take necessary legal measures."

In debate on legal amendments, the focus is likely to be on the
Public Offices Election Law, which provides for the age for eligible
voters, and on the Civil Law, which sets the age of majority. In
addition, more than 100 relevant laws, including the Juvenile Law
and traffic laws, will be affected if the age of majority is revised
to 18.

Once such laws are revised, the age at which people become adults
will be 18 in view of the law. In such a case, the perceptions of

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what an ideal society should be will naturally be changed

A revision of the Public Offices Election Law will increase the
number of eligible voters in national and local elections. In the
latest population census (Oct. 1, 2005), Japanese nationals aged 18
to 19 totaled about 2.71 million. Should the age of adulthood under
the Civil Law is lowered to 18, those aged at 18 or 19 will be
allowed to engage in transactions in assets, as well as to get
married even without parents' consensus.

Even so, some in the government and the ruling coalition remain
cautious about revising laws related to the age of majority. Many
LDP members are negative about amending the laws to prohibit
minorities from smoking and drinking. On a revision of the Juvenile
Law, as well, the dominant view in the government is that "it is
difficult to find reasons to lower the age of majority."

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Shimomura also just said in
a press conference yesterday: "The study panel will conduct
comprehensive studies, such as the need for revisions."

9) National referendum bill enacted under mood of constitutional
revision; But even pro-constitutional revision advocates
dissatisfied with the bill

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Slightly abridged)
May 15, 2007

Yu Takayama

The national referendum bill was enacted into law yesterday, setting
the procedures for constitutional revision 60 years after the
current Constitution was established. This move is welcomed by the
ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), whose party policies include
amending the Constitution, but there is a noted lack of enthusiasm.
One reason for this is perhaps because of a freeze on making any
constitutional revision proposals for three years after the bill
becomes law. Another reason is because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's
constitutional revision policy lacks a strategic approach, with an
emphasis simply placed on creating a mood for constitutional
revision, thereby perplexing lawmakers even in his party who are
knowledgeable about the Constitution. When it comes to how
constitutional revision will proceed in the future, uncertainties
still remain with the collapse of the cooperative ties between the
ruling and opposition parties.

The procedures for constitutional revision have now been prepared,
but no amending of the Constitution shall be made in the three years
ahead. How to actual amend the Constitution, give shape to
constitutional revision proposals, gather support for such
proposals, and shape public opinion are open questions.

However, the cooperative relations among the LDP, its junior
coalition partner New Komeito, and the major opposition Democratic
Party of Japan (Minshuto or DPJ) collapsed with Abe's announcement
in his New Year speech in January of his intention to make
constitutional revision a campaign issue in the upcoming Upper House
election. When it comes to specific constitutional proposals, Abe
has emphasized the LDP's draft constitution (created in 2005), but
LDP lawmakers advocating constitutional amendment point out the need
for drafting a second version of a new constitution. One member of

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the Lower House Special Committee on the Constitution complained:
"The prime minister made an unnecessary remark, only to cause
ripples in the Minshuto and the New Komeito. It's unclear whether
the prime minister is really serious about revising the

Meanwhile, LDP Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa told a press
briefing yesterday: "Based on our draft constitution already
publicized, we want to play a part in leading a national movement
for establishing a new constitution by visiting various locations
across the country." Nakagawa is apparently giving backing to Abe's
effort for creating a move for constitutional revision.

There is also a rift between the LDP and the New Komeito over the
question of the right to collective self-defense. The New Komeito
does not allow Japan to exercise that right. New Komeito
Representative Akihiro Ota told reporters yesterday: "We will
endeavor to come up with a proposal for adding modifications to the
current Constitution in three years after full debate." Ota thus
indicated his alarm toward the rising mood for constitutional
revision as aimed at by Abe.

10) Rebel Hideo Watanabe of DPJ disturbing factor for solidarity

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
May 15, 2007

The national referendum bill was yesterday approved by the Upper
House during its plenary session. Former Postal Minister Hideo
Watanabe of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) voted
for the bill against the party's policy. His action has dampened the
solidarity of the DPJ leadership, including party head Ichiro Ozawa,
in the run-up to the Upper House election in the summer.

Watanabe after the voting stressed that he acted based on his
principle, "I must resign as politician, if I give in on the
constitutional issue."

The leadership will strictly reprimand him in the name of Upper
House Diet Policy Committee Akira Gunji. It intends to refrain from
taking a severer punishment, such as suspension of his party
membership or recommendation to bolt, considering the fact that this
was his "first offense" -- a relatively light punishment taken in
order to contain a shock in the party.

However, four other members also abstained from the plenary session
on account of schedules in their constituencies and some business.
Though the leadership does not regard their abstention as rebel,
lawmakers who are regarded as anti-Ozawa were among the four. The
incident is certain to become a disturbing factor for the

Some conservative DPJ members are sympathetic with Watanabe, with
one veteran lawmaker noting, "An overwhelming number of lawmakers
are secretly in favor of the national referendum bill." What
happened in the voting has spread a stir in the DPJ.

11) DPJ mum until Upper House election

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
May 15, 2007

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Takashi Sudo

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) was
opposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's stance of making
constitutional revision a campaign issue in the upcoming Upper House
election, and advocates of constitutional revision in the party also
remained mum. Those advocates are concerned that their opposition to
the national referendum bill may be taken to mean they are
pro-constitution forces, but most of them intend to follow President
Ichiro Ozawa, who has emphasized his confrontational position
against Abe, until the Upper House election is over.

Minshuto Secretary-General Yukio Hatoyama, when asked by reporters
yesterday in Sapporo City about the enactment of the national
referendum bill without approval from the opposition parties,
criticized the ruling camp: "This is a significant flaw in creating
an environment for constitutional revision (which requires a
concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each

12) National referendum bill obtains Diet approval: Rocky road ahead
for revisions of related laws

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
May 15, 2007

The passage of the national referendum bill (legislation for
procedures for constitutional amendment) yesterday has left many
challenges to tackle. The legislation stipulates that voting age is
in principle 18 and older. The condition is, however, that there
must be consistency with the current 20 and older requirement for
adults and the present age eligible for voting. The government will
rush to undertake coordination of views on revisions of relevant
laws, including the Public Office Election Law, civil law, etc.
There is also the possibility of discussions of regulating public
servants' deed and the media flaring up again.

Eighteen and older as voting age will require revision to current
adult requirement; Concern over excessive regulation on public
servants' deed

The bill set an age eligible for voting at 18 and older, based on
the judgment that it is necessary to listen to views of a generation
who will shoulder the future. Since this is greatly different from
other laws, the bill was attached with an additional clause, which
stipulates that a necessary legal measure should be taken within
three years.

However, there are many related laws, including the Juvenile Law,
the National Pension Law, and the Law for Preventing Minors from
Drinking. Though it may not be necessary to amend all related laws,
it is trying to decide which laws should be amended.

The government and the ruling camp will look into the matter with
the possibility of lowering the age eligible for voting and the age
considered as an adult. However, since amending these laws will have
a major social impact, a cautious argument is deep-seated.

The prevailing view is that in the event amendments to related laws
cannot be made in time, it is all right to apply 20 and older as the
age eligible for a national referendum. However, opposition parties
and some experts are maintaining that the enforcement of the

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national referendum law should be nullified.

A clause prohibiting public servants, schoolteachers and staffers
from calling for voting for or against constitutional revision is
also stirring up arguments. The regulation would be excessive, if it
places a total ban, including a ban on the expression of private
views. Consideration into revisions to the National Civil Service
Law and the Local Public Service Law has been incorporated in the
additional clause. However, chances are that the matter may be up to
how the law is applied.

As media control, the national referendum law totally bans
fee-charging TV and radio advertisements from 14 days before the
voting day. The aim is to secure an opportunity for the people to
ponder their course of action in a cool-headed manner. However,
opposition parties once called for a total ban on such
advertisements, noting that organizations with funds could lead
public opinion into a certain direction.

An article calling for TV broadcasters to bear in mind political
impartiality, based on the Broadcast Law, has been incorporated.
Each media institution should voluntarily decide how to maintain
impartiality. The National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in
Japan is against the article with chairman Michisada Hirose noting,
"We are concerned that the article will pave the way for public
power to interfere in the media."

Opposition parties, such as the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or
Minshuto), during Diet deliberations called for the introduction of
a minimum voter turnout system, under which if a voter turnout falls
below a certain set rate, the voting itself becomes invalid. The
Upper House characterized item in its additional resolution the
issue as a future agenda. Behind its decision is the judgment that
if a voter turnout is 40%, the Constitution can be amended with
approval by a little over 20% of all eligible voters, a situation
that requires some form of brake.

13) Amendment to Iraq Special Measures Law approved by Lower House
panel despite opposition from opposition parties

MAINICHI (Page2) (Full)
May 15, 2007

Ryuko Tadokoro

The bill aimed at extending the Iraq Special Measures Law for
another two years was approved by a majority from the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner New Komeito
at a meeting yesterday of the Lower House Special Committee on
Prevention of Terrorism and Iraq Assistance. The bill calling for
scrapping that law introduced by the major opposition Democratic
Party of Japan (Minshuto or DPJ) was rejected. A supplementary
resolution calling on the government to discuss when to withdraw
Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops from Iraq while watching the
situation in Iraq was adopted by a majority from the LDP, the
Minshuto, and the New Komeito.

The bill is to be approved today by the Lower House plenary session
and be sent to the Upper House. It is expected to be enacted into
law during the current session of the Diet. Following this passage
of the bill, the government intends to continue the deployment of
Air-Self Defense Force (ASDF) troops, who are transporting goods and

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personnel of the coalition forces and the United Nations from Kuwait
to other locations with Kuwait as their base.

The Iraq Special Measures Law was established in July 2003. It is a
temporary law with a four-year term limit and it is due to expire at
the end of July. The government decided to extend the law for only
another two years because the future course of America's Iraq policy
is uncertain. Opposition parties are voicing objections to the
extension, arguing: "Iraq says the SDF deployment will be
unnecessary, given a rising mood in the US for a pullout of its
troops from Iraq."

14) US military conducts fighter jet training at Atsugi after 7-year
hiatus; Residents complain about noise

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
May 15, 2007

The US Navy began night landing practice (NLP) for jet fighter
attack planes on May 10 at its Atsugi base stretching over the
cities of Yamato and Ayase in Kanagawa Prefecture. Yesterday as
well, their metallic sounds cut through the night in the
touch-and-go training. There is no agreement in written form between
Japan and the United States to avoid conducting such training at the
Atsugi base. However, NLP for jet fighters and other noisy aircraft
had not been conducted over the past six years in response to local
communities' tenacious campaign against NLP. Local communities and
their residents are repulsed by NLP that was suddenly resumed at
Atsugi for the first time in seven years.

According to Kanagawa's prefectural and municipal governments, the
US Navy normally conducts NLP for low-noise aircraft at the Atsugi
base. On May 10, however, US Forces Japan informed Kanagawa
Prefecture and its base-hosting municipalities that the US Navy
would conduct NLP for fighter attackers at the Atsugi base for a
period of three days, May 10 and May 14-15, due to bad weather at
Tokyo's island of Iwojima, which has a training airfield for
carrier-borne fighter jets.

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa lodged a protest yesterday with
Capt. Justin Cooper, commanding officer, Naval Air Facility Atsugi,
and requested the US Navy to stop the training.

15) Nakaima cites Okinawa's security environment as reason of
concentrated US bases in prefecture

MAINICHI (Page 28) (Full)
May 15, 2007

Okinawa celebrates the 35th anniversary of its return to Japan
today. Plans to consolidate and downsize US bases have been stalled
and there seems to be no end to incidents and accidents involving US
servicemen in the prefecture. Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima in a
media interview yesterday took this view on the concentrated US
bases in Okinawa: "I think they are vital for security,
geopolitical, and military reasons." Nakaima has become the first
Okinawa governor to cite the security environment as the top reason
since the base issue has flared up following the schoolgirl rape
incident in 1995.

Nakaima's reformist predecessors -- Masahide Ota and Keiichi Inamine
-- used to lament a lack of national awareness, saying, "The

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Japanese people do not regard security and base issues as their
own." Nakaima's remarks can be taken to signify his view that base
issues are peculiar to Okinawa.

Nakaima also expressed his hope regarding the agreed-upon
realignment of US forces in Japan, including the relocation of
Futenma Air Station to the coastline of Camp Schwab (in Nago),
saying: "Consolidation and downsizing begin with the Futenma
relocation and the move of US Marines to Guam." Once Futenma Air
Station is relocated to the new site, the US military will return
six facilities south of Kadena Air Base to Japan. Okinawa will still
continue to host nearly 70% of US base facilities in Japan.

16) Abe raises question about CLB's interpretation of collective
defense, saying "necessarily minimum level" is quantitative notion

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
May 15, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in yesterday's Lower House Iraq
Reconstruction Assistance Special Committee meeting raised a
question about the Cabinet Legislation Bureau's (CLB) constitutional
interpretation prohibiting Japan from exercising the right to
collective self-defense on the grounds that such is beyond the
necessary minimum self-defense. Abe said: "I think the 'necessary
minimum level' is a quantitative notion." His comment can be taken
to mean that some actions must be allowed within the framework of
the necessary minimum level of the right to collective

According to the CLB's interpretation, Japan is allowed to exercise
the right to self-defense only in facing the imminent danger of
being attacked, adding, "the use of force must be limited to the
necessary minimum level." So the CLB's stance is that without the
immediate danger of coming under an armed attack, Japan is not
allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense that must
be kept to the necessary minimum level.


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