Japan’s Abe Pushes Security Bills through Lower House, Despite Protests

ASIA--PACIFIC, 20 Jul 2015

Linda Sieg, Reuters – TRANSCEND Media Service

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday [16 Jul 2015] pushed through parliament’s lower house legislation that could see troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two, despite protests and a risk of further damage to his sagging ratings.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the lower house plenary session at the parliament in Tokyo July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the lower house plenary session at the parliament in Tokyo July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

A lower house panel approval on Wednesday of the unpopular bills, which would drop a ban on collective self-defence or fighting to defend a friendly country like the United States, sparked a huge demonstration near parliament.

On Thursday, protesters gathered there again holding placards and chanting “Stop Abe’s recklessness” and “Scrap War Bills”.

The protests were reminiscent of those that toppled Abe’s grandfather from the premiership 55 years ago after he rammed a revised U.S.-Japan security pact through parliament.

Organisers said over 20,000 had gathered by about 8 p.m. on Thursday despite threatened rain, after saying 100,000 took part the day before, when crowds swelled as the evening wore on.

The bills next go to the upper house, where opposition parties can delay a vote although the ruling bloc has a majority. If no vote is held within 60 days, they return to the lower house, where Abe’s coalition can enact them with a two-thirds majority.

Abe says a bolder security stance, welcomed by ally Washington, is essential to meet new challenges, such as those from a rising China.

“The security situation around Japan is getting tougher,” Abe told reporters after the vote, which took place after opposition parties walked out of the chamber. “These bills are vital to protect the Japanese people’s lives and prevent war.”

The changes expand the scope for Japan’s military to also provide logistics support to friendly countries, relax limits on peace-keeping operations and make it easier to respond to “grey zone” incidents falling short of war.

Opponents say the revisions could entangle Japan in U.S.-led conflicts around the globe and violate pacifist Article Nine of the U.S-drafted, post-war constitution.

“I feel like the constitution is being destroyed,” said 81-year-old retiree Yukitaka Koyama protesting near parliament.


China’s Foreign Ministry said the move called into question Japan’s post-war commitment to “the path of peaceful development”, and urged Japan to learn the lessons of history.

Sino-Japanese ties have long been frayed by China’s memories of Japan’s wartime aggression, although relations have thawed since a November leaders’ meeting.

Abe, who returned to office in 2012 pledging to bolster Japan’s defences and reboot the economy, has seen his support slip to around 40 percent on voter doubts about the legislation and other policies, such as a plan to restart nuclear reactors.

A clash with the governor of Okinawa over a U.S. Marines air base will likely flare up in August, when Abe will also unveil a controversial statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.

Some analysts have begun to draw parallels to Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, a wartime cabinet minister who was premier from 1957 to 1960 and resigned on July 15, 1960 because of a public furore over the U.S.-Japan security pact.

Other analysts say that although Abe’s ratings will take a hit, he is likely to survive and win re-election in September for another three-year term as leader of his Liberal Democratic Party, given weak opposition inside and outside of the party.

“There is a lot of hubris and arrogance and it will come back to haunt him. He is no longer the Teflon prime minister,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus.


Reuters/Toru Hanai

Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Teppei Kasai in Tokyo; Editing by Michael Perry

Go to Original – reuters.com


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One Response to “Japan’s Abe Pushes Security Bills through Lower House, Despite Protests”

  1. satoshi says:

    It is not sorely Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s and his LDP’s will to attempt to enact a new law that enables Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to fight in cooperation with the US military forces outside Japan. It is a request from the US government, to which the Japanese government cannot refuse or decline.

    That system has continued since the occupation era in 1945. Those Japanese politicians who refused or declined the request from the US government either lost their political status or (forced to be) resigned, with no exception. If Prime Minister Abe and his LDP want to maintain their political status and power, he has no choice but to say “Yes” to almost any request from the US government. If any opposition party takes the power, the result will be the same; either they must accept the US request or they will surely lose their political power and status.

    On September 8, 1951, the Allied Power countries, including the United States, and Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty to legally end World War II. On the same day, other treaties were also signed, which were the “Security Treaty (aka the “Old AMPO”)” and the “Administrative Agreement” (aka the “Old SOFA”) between the United States and Japan.

    In addition, according to media reporting, some declassified documents of the United States reveal that it was the Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, who requested that the United States military forces stay in Okinawa permanently. General Douglas MacArthur, SCAP or the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Occupation Forces in Japan, agreed then.

    In 1960, the “new Security Treaty”, which was partially modified, and “SOFA (= the Status of Force Agreement between the US and Japan = the modified version of the Administrative Agreement)” were signed, which have been valid to this date. Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, Prime Minister Abe’s grandfather, signed them. Prime Minister Kishi then did not have any choice but signed them. Upon his signing the slightly modified these treaties, Kishi immediately resigned from the Prime Minister’s post. He knew what he did was against the majority will of Japanese people then.

    It will be no wonder even if Prime Minister Abe will lose in the next general election, to be held possibly sometime in 2017 or in the beginning of 2018. Till then, however, he and his LDP will continue accomplishing relevant requests from the US government. And whosoever will become Abe’s successor, the new Prime Minister, even if he will be from any opposition party, will carry out the same type of policy, which means to perform virtually any requests from the US government, as Abe has been doing for all these years.

    As mentioned above, that style of politics has been continued for 70 years since the end of World War II. The Unite States has “successfully” pushed Japan to become an inescapable part of the US foreign policy. It will be sure that this political style will continue for next many decades and more. Perhaps for centuries. Who knows?

    By the way, imagine that one day Japan will become the 51st state of the United States. Then, the voters from the 120 million Japanese population will surely affect the outcome of the US Presidential Election and almost any other aspects of the US politics! In this regard, note that Pentagon claims, in its “National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2015,” June 2015, that the US security is not safe until it conquers the world. See “Pentagon Concludes America Not Safe unless It Conquers the World”, posted on the TMS July 13 – 19 July 2015. Who can deny that Japan was conquered by the Unite States in 1945? History will go on.

    It may also be necessary to remember Articles 107 and 53 of the UN Charter:
    Article 107
    Nothing in the present Charter shall invalidate or preclude action, in relation to any state which during the Second World War has been an enemy of any signatory to the present Charter, taken or authorized as a result of that war by the Governments having responsibility for such action.

    Article 53
    1. The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council, with the exception of measures against any enemy state, as defined in paragraph 2 of this Article, provided for pursuant to Article 107 or in regional arrangements directed against renewal of aggressive policy on the part of any such state, until such time as the Organization may, on request of the Governments concerned, be charged with the responsibility for preventing further aggression by such a state.
    2. The term enemy state as used in paragraph 1 of this Article applies to any state which during the Second World War has been an enemy of any signatory of the present Charter.