An anti-war protester yells while waving a sign that reads: “Don’t destroy Article 9 of the constitution” during a Thursday rally in Tokyo after Japan’s lower house of parliament approved legislation that would expand the role of the nation’s military.
“We have decided to go back to the start on the Tokyo Olympics-Paralympics stadium plan, and start over from zero”, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after a meeting with Yoshiro Mori, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.
BEIJING • China’s defence minister told the head of Japan’s National Security Council yesterday that Japanese legislation that could see troops sent to fight overseas for the first time since World War II would “complicate” regional security. That grabbed the public’s attention and boosted the opposition in what otherwise had been a difficult-to-follow debate.
“Although Japan still rely largely on U.S.-Japan alliance for the sake of keeping this region stable, it has come to the realization that it has to count on itself more independently when it comes to defend Japanese fundamental national interests including its territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea, ” Sothirak said. The meeting between Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi and Shotaro Yachi, a career diplomat and a close aide to Abe, were part of a continuing attempt to prevent the standoff over the Pacific islands and the Japanese parliamentary vote leading to a new breach in relations between the two countries.
Some legal experts in Japan have different concerns.
They said the legislation was needed to take account of the shifting security environment in Asia, where North Korea remains as volatile and unpredictable as ever, and China is increasingly perceived to be throwing its weight around.
Some have suggested that Abe could copy what Angela Merkel did, not attending the formal parade but showing up during other scheduled commemorative ceremonies. The legislation could face a court challenge once it becomes law.
Opponents say the legislation brings greater risks to Japan and violates the constitution.
Abe’s Cabinet approved a reinterpretation of the constitution past year to allow collective self-defense, reversing previous interpretations.
“[Abe] will please Washington, but in doing so he’s undermining his own political support and squandering his own political capital”, said Jeff Kingston, an Asian studies professor at Temple University’s Japan campus. Currently, nearly anything Japan’s military wants to do has to get temporary legislation from the Diet.
The bills will now go to the upper house, and if no vote is taken after 60 days they will be returned to the lower house, where Mr Abe’s coalition can enact them with a two-thirds majority.
Chang said the passing of the bills Thursday is an “unprecedented move” for Japan’s military since the end of World War II, and this move will have a complicated influence on regional security and strategic stability. Its troops are called self-defense forces (SDF) and their functions have been severely limited until recently.