Japan passes law allowing troops to fight abroad
Upper house passes law allowing troops to fight on foreign soil for first time since World War II, despite protests.
Japan’s parliament has passed a law allowing its military to fight on foreign soil for the first time since World War II.
The upper house of the Japanese parliament passed the law on Saturday, despite fierce attempts by opposition politicians to block the move.
The approval makes the legislation into law, loosening post-World War II constraints on the use of force by the military to its own self-defence only.
The legislation, passed by the more powerful lower house in July, sparked sizable protests and debate about whether the nation should shift away from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.
The motion, backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition, passed following days of heated debate that, at times, descended into scuffles and shouting matches between parliament members.
Opposition politicians on Thursday pushed and shoved in a failed bid to stop a committee from approving the bills.
Abe has faced fierce criticism for his handling of the bills, and there are growing signs the campaign has taken a political toll.
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Opinion polls show the vast majority of Japanese are against the changes, and Abe’s once sky-high approval rating is dropping.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in almost daily rallies in a show of public anger on a scale rarely seen in Japan.
On Friday, hundreds gathered again outside the parliament in Tokyo.
Opponents argue that the new laws, which would allow the tightly restricted military to fight in defence of allies, violate Japan’s constitution and could see the country dragged into US-led wars.
Abe wants what he calls a normalisation of Japan’s military posture, which has been restricted to narrowly defined self-defence and aid missions by a pacifist constitution imposed by the US after World War II.