Japan enacts controversial security laws amid strong opposition

TOKYO, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) — Japan abandoned its 70-year pacifism since the end of World War II as the parliament’s upper house on early Saturday enacted a controversial legislation pushed by the government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The legislation’s enactment marked an overhaul in Japan’s purely defensive defense posture, meaning the country could dispatch its troops overseas to engage in armed conflicts for the first time in seven decades.

However, the country’s war-renouncing Constitution bans its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) from doing so or exercising the right to collective self-defense.

Over 90 percent of Japan’s constitutional experts believe that the legislation violates the Japanese supreme law.

The parliament’s all-powerful lower house passed the bills in July.

Under the newly enacted legislation, Japan will create a permanent law to allow its SDF to carry out logistical support missions for foreign militaries in international peacekeeping operations, and 10 other existing security-related laws will be revised.

The enactment came after major opposition parties’ tactics to delay the upper house vote by filing censure motions against the prime minister and the chairman of a panel under the chamber, as well as no-confidence motions against Abe’s cabinet and the chamber’s speaker.

On Thursday, rowdy scenes erupted when an upper house panel voted on the bills as opposition party lawmakers surrounded and mobbed the panel’s chairman.

However, all of the motions filed Friday were voted down as the ruling bloc that groups Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its small partner, the Komeito Party, secured the majority in both parliament chambers.

Tetsuro Fukuyama, a lawmaker from Japan’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, said in his final statement at the upper house before the passage of the bills that the forced passage is intolerable as the move violates Japan’s postwar pacifism and democratic system.

“There are still unresolved questions in the bills and to enact such questionable bills is intolerable,” said the lawmaker, adding that the ruling camp showed its arrogance on the issue by disregarding political heavyweights’ opinions.

Akira Koike, vice chair of the Japan Communist Party, recalled in his final statement that 84 years ago, the then Japanese military’s autocratic rule led to the country’s aggression against China.

The war Japan waged in the past has brought agony to its Asian neighbors, he said, emphasizing that the bills are unconstitutional.

For his part, the prime minister told reporters after the vote that the result laid necessary legislation for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

The ruling camp will continue to explain the laws to the Japanese public, Abe said.

When the Abe-led ruling bloc rammed the bills through the upper house, tens of thousands of protesters rallied around the national Diet building demanding the prime minister’s resignation and the retract of the bills. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities like Nagoya and Hiroshima.

Shingo Fukuyama, a member of the Anti-War Committee of 1,000, told Xinhua before the vote outside the Diet building that the Japanese Constitution clearly states that Japan renounces war, but the security bills pushed by Abe will change Japan into a country that could wage wars overseas. “That’s why we are here to protest against the bills.”

According to the committee, about 40,000 opponents of the security legislation rallied around the Diet building before its forced passage in the upper house.

Opponents of the security legislation held demonstrations on a daily basis. On Aug. 30, more than 120,000 people rallied here against the legislation while hundreds of similar demonstrations were held across Japan, involving about 1 million participants.

A college student from Japan’s top-ranked Kyoto University said that what the prime minister is doing is overstating the so-called “China threat” — cheating the public by claiming that China prepares to attack Japan — so as to gain more support for his security bills.

“Actually, I hope I can work with the Chinese people to establish a harmonious society,” he told Xinhua before the upper house vote.

A poll released earlier this week showed that 68 percent of the respondents opposed to the passage of the controversial bills during the current Diet session through Sept. 27. About 54 percent said that they opposed the bills, compared with 29 percent who showed their support.


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