Japanese parliament approves controversial security bills

Japanese parliament passes controversial security bills which could allow Japan troops to fight oversees for the first time since World War II

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Lawmakers vote for the limitation of the length of a speech during the plenary session for Japan

Japan's parliament has approved contentious security bills that allows for the country’s security forces to fight abroad for the first time after 70 years of post-war peace despite massive protests.

The upper House of Councillors, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition holds a majority of seats, made a final decision over the security bills on early Saturday.

Shinzo Abe indicated that Japan needs to change the country's pacifist constitution to ensure regional peace and security for its global peacekeeping missions.

Supporters of the bills suggest that they will help enable the Japan Self Defence Forces to prevent potential threats from nations such as China and North Korea which are continuing to develop their military and nuclear weapons programs.

Last Thursday, Japanese lawmakers scuffled in Japan’s upper house during a heated debate over the bills. Following the clashes, opposition lawmaker Tetsuro Fukuyama made an emotional speech on Thursday saying why his party had delayed the bills, which could see Japanese forces fighting abroad for the first time since World War II. "Is the ruling party listening to the voices of the public? You can do whatever you want to do because you have a majority - is that what you think?" he said tearfully.

Japanese lawmakers scuffle during a committee voting of security bills at the upper house of the parliament in Tokyo on Thursday

In an unusual moment for the usually sedate Japanese parliament opposition politicians and members of coalition government pushed and shouted at each other while standing around the chairman of the security committee and tried to snatch paperwork from him.  

The founder of Bogazici University's Asian Studies Centre Selcuk Esenbel spoke to TRT World on Japan’s security bills and said PM Abe is concerned about China's growing economy and military policy. Abe wishes the US to rearm Japan's military although a large proportion of the Japanese public oppose changing the country's pacifist constitution.

Ten thousands of Japanese of all ages have rallied each day this week in a show of public anger over the controversial security bill.

Protesters gathered in front of parliament in Tokyo on Friday to protest the unpopular bills and set fire to pictures of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pictured with a Hitler haircut and moustache. They are worried about possibly being dragged into the US wars around the world.

Many Japanese have called on members of the parliament to witdraw the current decision. Some of them lifted posters with slogans such as “Protect the constitution" and "Spread peace not war.”

Protesters holding placards take part in a rally against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security bill

One of protesters Yukiko Ogawa, a 60-year-old farmer, told AFP that "I'm ready to stay here all night. The government cannot ignore such a demonstration. It is vital that we make our opinion known, that we are here.”

"We have enough natural disasters, typhoons, earthquakes. We don't need any man-made disasters” added other protester, Seiji Kawabe, 49.

According to Japan;s government, the security bills would allow the military to mobilise overseas when these three conditions are met:

-when Japan is attacked, or when a close ally is attacked, and the result threatens Japan's survival and poses a clear danger to people

-when there is no other appropriate means available to repel the attack and ensure Japan's survival and protect its people

-use of force is restricted to a necessary minimum

It has been speculated that the expansion of SDF missions could lead to increases in Japan's defence budged while Japan is struggling with ongoing economic stagnation.

TRTWorld and agencies