Japan's lower house passes controversial security bills
Updated: 2015-07-15 12:03
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a lower house special committee session on security-related legislation at the parliament in Tokyo July 15, 2015. A series of controversial security- related bills were passed in a Japanese parliament's lower house special committee in spite of strong opposition from both home and abroad. [Photo/Agencies]
A series of controversial security- related bills were passed in a Japanese parliament's lower house special committee on Wednesday in spite of strong opposition from both home and abroad, marking the most significant overturn of the country's defense posture in the past 70 years.
The bills will enable the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to play a greater role than ever in the past 70 years, such as to engage in armed conflicts overseas and help defend others even if Japan is not attacked, or to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
The security legislation is the follow-up to a Cabinet decision last July that lifted the self-imposed constitutional restriction on the SDF to exercise the right to collective defense through a reinterpretation of the Japanese war-renouncing Constitution by Abe's Cabinet.
Not only opposition parties, but also the majority of the Japanese population are hoping to see the bills scrapped and are urging the government through constant protests to drop the bills and calling for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to step down.
A series of polls released recently by major Japanese media showed that the majority of the Japanese population were against the security legislation, with separate polls carried out by the Nikkei Daily, Mainichi Shimbun, NHK and Asahi Shimbun showing that at least 55 percent of those surveyed showed their opposition, while only 30 percent supported the bills.
Yasukazu Hamada (2nd R), chairman of the Upper House Special Committee on Security, shouts as he is surrounded by opposition lawmakers during a vote on the security-related legislation at the parliament in Tokyo July 15, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
The poll taken by the center-right Yomiuri Shimbun also showed that about 50 percent were against the bills and only the survey conducted by the right-wing Sankei Shimbun showed that supporters of the bills surpassed the opponents with a reading of 49 percent to 43.8 percent.
Among a total of 326 opinion papers filed to the lower house affairs bureau by 297 local assemblies in 39 out of 47 prefectures as of Friday, 292 of the local assemblies oppose or maintain cautious attitude toward the legislation, with only five local assemblies showing their support for the bills.
Those who oppose the security bills consider, on one hand, that the legislation violates Japan's pacifist Constitution, especially the war-renouncing Article 9. The Japanese supreme law bans the SDF from exercising the right to collective defense and engaging in conflicts abroad.
The country's constitutional scholars, including veterans fighting for revising the Constitution, said that Abe's trying to ram the bills through parliament will jeopardize the rule of law and diminish the role of the constitution to limit political power.
"If Abe's administration forces this policy through parliament without amending the constitution, that would be the beginning of tyranny and the destruction of the rule of law,"Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus at Keio University, said in a recent press conference.