TOKYO — Defying broad public opposition and large demonstrations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a crucial vote in Parliament on Thursday for legislation that would give Japan’s military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II.
Mr. Abe’s party and its allies in the lower house of Parliament approved the package of 11 security-related bills after opposition lawmakers walked out in protest and as demonstrators chanted noisily outside, despite a gathering typhoon. The upper chamber, which Mr. Abe’s coalition also controls, is all but certain to endorse the legislation as well.
The vote was the culmination of months of contentious debate in a society that has long embraced pacifism to atone for wartime aggression. It was a significant victory for Mr. Abe, a conservative politician who has devoted his career to moving Japan beyond guilt over its militarist past and toward his vision of a “normal country” with a larger role in global affairs. Continue reading
Limited by military restrictions since the end of World War II, the Japanese parliament is now considering new guidelines which would allow it to expand further into international waters. The move is fully supported by the US, which hopes Japan can play a larger role in curtailing a growing Chinese influence.
Tensions have steadily risen between Tokyo and Beijing over a group of largely uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Both nations claim ownership, and the islands overlook major shipping lanes in the Pacific Ocean, which means the United States has an indirect interest, as well. Continue reading