Mark Linnhoefer – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government have managed to get two controversial defense and security bills passed by an upper house panel. The entire upper house will still have to approve the bills by the 27th of September for them to take effect, but the panel approval is already a large step.
The opposing Democratic Party, critics, and the general public are not happy with this. The new bills would allow for collective self-defense and defending a friendly nation under attack, and they would furthermore enlarge logistic operations for military equipment for the US and other allies and also more deeply engage Japan is so-called ‘peacekeeping’ missions.
Critics, opposition, and the public at large are furious about these reforms that would completely violate the pacifistic nature of the Japanese constitution. Every day of the week, protesters gathered, demanding for Abe’s resignation and a repeal of the bills. Although the Prime Minister’s party is the ruling one, the democrats are trying to stop them using censure motions in the chamber and no-confidence motions in the lower house, even saying that they would stoop to a tactic called the “Ox Walk”, where they’d approach the ballot box at painfully slow velocities so as to slow the vote down.
The US however welcomes the new path that Abe is taking, and the PM himself deems the measure as absolutely necessary to deal with a ‘changing international political landscape’, i.e. China. Although the revisions would not change the legal limits for Japan’s overseas military involvement, critics fear that they might get Japan into a position where they could easily be entangled into one of America’s military schemes. The Prime Minister’s overly authoritarian way of practically forcing such bills through has also been the subject of heavy criticism.
Evoking this kind of reaction seems to be a family thing for Abe as his grand-father was forced to resign fifty-five years ago for forcefully pushing a US-Japan defense treaty through parliament. Whether the house will vote in the PM’s favor cannot yet be said with certainty, but it certainly does seem like it right now, despite all the heavy protests.