The new laws, marking Japan’s biggest legislative post-war security shift and reversing seven decades of pacifism, will permit Japanese forces to engage in combat overseas in a move that has drawn the ire of Japan’s neighbors and the international community for threatening to destabilize security and peace in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Allowing Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since the Imperial Army of Japan brutalized regions in east and southeast Asia prior and during WWII, has, for Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, been his political holy grail, with the hawkish leader citing a need to boost the operational and geographical scope of Japan’s forces due to a perceived changing security dynamic in the immediate region as well as to better support its allies, such as the United States.

The legislation will now allow Japan, against its once-revered pacifist constitution, to exercise the right to collective self-defense and permit Japanese forces to come to the aid of its allies and friendly nations under armed attack even if Japan itself is not being threatened.

Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution, however, bans Japan from using force to settle international disputes and previous administrations have maintained that under international law Japan has the right to collective self-defense but is prohibited by Japan’s Supreme Law from exercising it.

In July last year, however, Abe’s Cabinet unilaterally decided without a broader political or public mandate on the issue, to reinterpret the key clause and decided that if an ally was under attack and this posed a threat to Japan’s survival and no other means other than force could prevent the attack, that a minimum amount of force would be allowed by Japanese forces to repel an attack.

Despite constitutional experts, scholars and lawyers all finding the reinterpretation to be grossly flawed and the subsequent war-linked legislation unlawful, Abe’s majority in both chambers of parliament ensured the bills’ passage and enactment into law, against a backdrop of nationwide public protests and international condemnation.

While mention has been made of the fact that Japan’s forces on UN peacekeeping missions will also be able to use their weapons to come to the aid of foreign forces under attack from any armed group, such as Japanese peacekeepers currently deployed in South Sudan, as well as minesweeping mission in the Strait of Hormuz, and Japanese forces being allowed to evacuate its citizens if their lives are threatened overseas, other details pertaining to operational scope, protocols, borders, and rues of engagement remain entirely vague.

To this end, opposition parties have stated they will take issue with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition over this, in this summer’s upper house elections, and make this a central theme. Prior to that the head of the main opposition Democratic Party Katsuya Okada is calling for the law to be scrapped.

Abe’s remarks to parliamentary committee on Monday did little to appease the opposition camp or the public, who are once again gearing up for nationwide protests Tuesday, centered around the Diet building in central Tokyo, with the rightwing leader stating that the new laws would serve to further cement Japan’s alliance with the United States and act as a “deterrence”.

The latest media polls show that more than half of Japan’s population are opposed to the new war laws with even more believing they violate Japan’s Constitution. Only a minority of those polled recently view them as being favorable.

As the government here continues to refuse to suitably atone for its wartime atrocities and actively sets about whitewashing its tarnished history — most recently by insisting humanities textbooks for use in high schools represents the current rightwing administration’s warped views on history and territorial issues — those opposed to the laws are urging the public to remember that the formation of the bills were based on a “forced reinterpretation” of the Supreme Law.

“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe changed the interpretation of the Constitution by force. Is it OK to change the Constitution’s pacifism so easily?” Katsuya Okada was quoted as saying during a public speech on Monday.

“We have to stop the ‘reckless driving’ of the Abe administration. This is the last chance to realize the politics in which it is possible to change ruling parties,” Okada said at his newly-merged party’s inaugural convention in Tokyo recently. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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