Update 1:32 p.m. Japan’s parliament has approved contentious legislation to loosen constraints on the country’s military, giving it a greater role.
The approval at the upper house in the early hours of Saturday makes the legislation into law, loosening post-World War II constraints on use of force by the military to its own self-defense only.
The legislation, passed by the more powerful lower house in July, sparked sizeable protests and debate about whether the nation should shift away from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.
Japan’s parliament drew near on Friday to enacting contentious defense legislation that could ease the constraints of the pacifist constitution to let troops fight overseas for the first time since World War II, despite public protests and delaying tactics by the opposition.
A panel in Japan’s upper house on Thursday approved the legislation, a ruling party lawmaker said. The passage came without a final debate on the bills, paving way for the chamber’s plenary session to vote on the bills.
Opposition lawmakers tried to physically prevent the vote in a chaotic scene carried live on national television. The legislation has sparked huge protests from ordinary voters.
In last-ditch efforts Friday to delay a vote on the security bills in a plenary session of Japan’s upper house, the five largest opposition parties filed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet at the national Diet’s lower house.
The opposition parties said that the new security bills violate the Japanese war-renouncing Constitution and the majority of the Japanese public are against the legislation, which, if enacted, will allow the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to engage in armed conflicts overseas even if Japan is not attacked.
The Japanese pacifism supreme law bans the SDF from using force abroad and from exercising the right to collective self-defense.
Also on Friday, China urged the Japanese government to watch its military and security actions and do more things to contribute to regional peace and stability.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks at a routine press briefing on Friday after a special committee under the upper house of the Japanese national Diet passed a controversial government-backed security-related bill amid chaos in the chamber.
“We have noticed that voices in Japan opposing the bills have become louder by the day,” Hong said.
The legal revisions include an end to a decades-old ban on defending a friendly nation under attack, or collective self-defence, when Japan faces a “threat to its survival”.
The government says the changes to the law, welcomed by ally Washington, are vital to meet new challenges.
But opponents say the revisions, which the government aims to get voted into law by the entire upper house this week, violate the pacifist constitution and could embroil Japan in U.S.-led conflicts around the globe.
Meanwhile, outside the national Diet building, protesters rallied against the bills, shouting slogans demanding the retraction of the bills and resignation of the prime minister.
The security legislation opponents, including college students and housewives, hold demonstrations around the Diet building on a daily basis. On Aug 30, more than 120,000 people rallied here against the legislation while hundreds of similar demonstrations were held in other parts of Japan, involving about 1 million participants.
Compiled from China Daily, Reuters, and Xinhua wire stories