September 17, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) Tokyo, Japan — On Thursday evening, Japan’s parliament erupted in chaos as security bills granting the military broad powers for the first time in decades stalled during a committee vote. The outburst marks a culmination of heated opposition to the proposed laws over the past several months, the content of which have sparked intense resistance from a pacifist population and typically reserved parliament.
Since the end of World War II, the Japanese constitution — imposed by the United States — has barred military action unless it is deemed necessary for self-defense. The new, hotly contested package of 11 security bills gives the Japanese military the option to engage in battle to protect their allies — including the United States — even if there is no direct threat to Japan or its people.
After the bills passed the lower house of Parliament, where Liberal Democrat Prime Minister Shinzo Abe enjoys a two-thirds majority coalition (the Liberal Democratic Party is actually the country’s conservative party), a committee vote in the upper house Thursday evening stalled multiple times. Members of Parliament (MPs) opposed to the bills eventually blocked doorways and packed the corridors of Parliament in protest.
Eventually, the discord erupted into outright screaming, pushing, and shoving between opposing MPs and those among the ruling coalition. The committee chairman was eventually surrounded, apparently by MPs attempting to give him space to tally votes. Video footage of the incident shows what appears to be mob-like chaos. Such marked mayhem is reportedly rare in the Japanese parliament, but the committee eventually passed the bills anyway.
In spite of hostile criticism from lawmakers and citizens alike, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has defended the measures he introduced in June, arguing the changes “will enable Japan to respond more effectively to security threats from a more assertive China, a nuclear-armed North Korea and Islamist terrorism.” Legal scholars have objected to the security bill, deeming it unconstitutional. A poll taken in June found 50% of the population opposed the prime minister’s measures while 34% favored them, but Abe still pushed them through Parliament.
Thousands of Japanese citizens took to the streets on Thursday to oppose the bill, many of them youth. Over 13,000 demonstrated in Tokyo outside the Parliament building, where thirteen were reportedly arrested for allegedly “interfering with officers.” Resistance to the bill has been palpable since June. Shortly after Abe announced the new measures, one man set himself on fire in Tokyo after condemning the proposed laws.
Japanese opposition to militarism came after the imperial Japanese government committed a wide range of atrocities during World War II, when it acted on aggressive policies that saw the destruction of China and Korea, among other conquests. Thursday’s physical hostility in the upper chamber of Parliament is significant not only for its startling aggression, but as an indicator of emerging opposing forces in Japanese society. While the population has been consistently anti-war since World War II, it is apparent rising factions of militaristic politicians are gaining power.
One Liberal Democrat, a member of the committee and a former military officer, voted to pass the bills, contending, “It’s unfortunate that the bills had to be approved this way, but they are absolutely necessary to protect the lives and happiness of the people.”
In spite of the lawmaker’s mentality, an opposing committee member of the Democratic party said, “If bills can be passed in a violent way like that, then our country’s democracy is dead.”
This article (Watch Japanese Politicians Duke It out over New Pro-War Legislation) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Carey Wedler and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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