Japan’s parliament is voting on two controversial security bills.
For the Night of 15 July 2015
Japan: On 16 July, the House of Representatives in the National Diet is scheduled to vote on two controversial security bills that were approved by a special legislative committee today. The bills are expected to pass, after strong opposition debate. Then they will move to the House of Councillors for deliberation and a vote by the end of September.
A demonstration by 60,000 people protested the laws as unconstitutional. At least one poll indicates the bills are opposed by 56% of those polled.
Comment: The bills would authorize Japanese Self Defense Forces to deploy and to fight outside Japan alongside allies under the concept of collective security, despite the absence of a direct threat to Japan. Self Defense Force personnel could also support an ally.
On 1 July 2014, Prime Minister began the push to modernize and normalize Japan’s military options. China’s actions to claim sovereignty over sea areas and islands claimed by Japan plus North Korean nuclear and missile tests are the proximate causes of the new impulse to re-interpret Article 9 of the Constitution, by which Japan renounced war.
The US has been encouraging Japan to take on wider security responsibilities since before 2001. Thus Japan provided support from Mumbai, India, for US naval operations in the Arabian Sea in support of the overthrow of the Taliban. Japanese forces have assisted in humanitarian relief operations in Southeast Asia.
Japanese ships also have participated in the anti-pirate patrols off Somalia. Since 2011 the Maritime Self Defense Force has maintained a base in Djibouti for this purpose.
Japanese analytical commentary points out that the security bills mask a more fundamental constitutional struggle. Prime Minister Abe and his supporters favor a revised constitution because it was imposed by the US as an occupying power. It is not Japanese. This is still a minority view among the voters, but it has gained support as Japan’s communist neighbors have rattled sabers.
There will be more issues that try to reinterpret and expand provisions of the Constitution as part of the movement to rewrite the Constitution, eventually.
China’s Xinhua published a lengthy essay today that criticized Abe’s parliamentary maneuvers, citing primarily Japanese opponents of the bills. Some Japanese anti-Abe posters caricatured him as Hitler.
A key judgment in NightWatch’s analysis of developments in Asia is that Asian states are steadily taking responsibility for Asian security issues. China’s assertions of sovereignty in the South and East China Seas are part of the process, as are Japan’s new security bills and the movement to revise the constitution. The process of recovering from the distortions and ripple effects of World War II has taken 70 years so far. It is still not finished.
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