Japan’s ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday rammed through a series of controversial security bills in the all-powerful lower house of the nation’s Diet amid strong public opposition, marking the most significant overturn of the nation’s “purely defensive” defense posture.
The bills will enable Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to engage in armed conflicts overseas and help defend others even if Japan is not attacked, or exercise the right to collective defense.
The nation’s pacifist Constitution bans the SDF from combating abroad and using the right to collective defense, but the war- renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution will no longer serve as a constriction on Japan’s use of force.
Katsuya Okada, chief of Japan’s major opposition party – Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), criticized in the last presentation at the lower house plenary that the ruling bloc’s efforts to push through the bills disregarded public willingness and despised the parliament.
Major opposition parties including the DPJ, the Japanese Communist Party and the Japan Innovation Party skipped the vote procedure after their statements in the plenary session.
The bills were backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its small coalition partner of the Komeito Party. The ruling camp enjoys two thirds of seats in the chamber, meaning that if the upper house vetoes the bills, they could also be enacted in a new poll in the lower house by securing over two thirds of support.
The passage of the bills followed an over 100,000-strong protest around the Diet building after the bills were passed in a special committee at the lower house on Wednesday.
The latest poll released Tuesday by the Asahi Shimbun showed that about 56 percent of Japanese population opposed the bills, while only 26 percent showed their support. About 80 percent of Japanese people said the government did not sufficiently explain the bills.