Japan Passes Bills to Allow Troops to Fight in Overseas Wars

Japan hasn’t sent military into combat since World War II. Fierce public opposition to changes undermined support for Abe

Japanese ruling and opposition lawmakers scuffle at the Upper House's ad hoc committee session for the controversial security bills at the National Diet in Tokyo on Thursday. Photographer: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese ruling and opposition lawmakers scuffle at the Upper House’s ad hoc committee session for the controversial security bills at the National Diet in Tokyo on Thursday. Photographer: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed through legislation allowing Japan to send troops to fight in overseas conflicts for the first time since World War II, after facing down a summer of protests that sank his popularity.

Parliament gave final passage of bills to allow the military to defend an ally under attack and take a bigger role in international peacekeeping. Abe says the measures will improve deterrence and protect the nation from growing regional threats. For critics, the bills could end seven decades of pacifism and risk drawing Japan into U.S.-led conflicts.

Thousands of people have been demonstrating in the rain outside parliament against the bills this week and opposition lawmakers used stall tactics to delay their passage. China was quick to respond to the outcome in a statement urging Japan to learn lesson from history. South Korea said the North Asia country should contribute to regional peace and stability.

Abe prevailed, tapping his coalition’s commanding majority to force through a reinterpretation of the country’s pacifist constitution in the biggest change to defense policy in 70 years. Abe faced fierce opposition in a nation still scarred by the suffering wrought by World War II and the atomic bombings of 1945 that have left many Japanese with a deep-seated aversion to military action.

Pacifist Mindset

“Pacifism is deeply embedded in Japanese national identity as a foundation for the peace and prosperity achieved in the postwar period,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan. “They know from relatives’ experiences about the folly of war launched by reckless leaders unconstrained by the law or constitution.”

The constitution that renounces war was drafted by the U.S. during its postwar occupation of the country. Seventy years after the conflict, Japan finds itself in a changed world. The nation is in range of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, faces the growing military muscle of neighboring China and is a target of international terrorism. Abe, knowing how difficult it would be to revise the top law, pushed the legislation to reinterpret its pacifist clause to permit collective self defense.

“This legislation is necessary to defend the lives and peaceful existence of our people and to prevent war,” Abe told reporters in a live broadcast by NHK after the bill’s passing. “I will be persistent and faithful in explaining this position” to the citizens.

Summer of Protests

Demonstrators hold a banner as they stage a protest against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial security bills in front of the National Diet in Tokyo on Thursday. Photographer: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Demonstrators hold a banner as they stage a protest against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial security bills in front of the National Diet in Tokyo on Thursday. Photographer: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

More than 100,000 people demonstrated against the bills across Japan on Aug. 30 and thousands more returned to the streets outside parliament in Tokyo this week as the showdown over the legislation neared.

“Japan is a country that can’t say no to America,” said Misaki Takashima, a 51-year-old housewife at the protest, who braved sputtering Tokyo rain on Friday to voice her opposition. “I’m worried that because the U.S. is always fighting lots of wars and Japan may start fighting with them.”

Passing the bills would free Abe to return his focus to his plan to boost inflation and growth in Asia’s second-biggest economy, which remains on the brink of recession even after more than two years of fiscal and monetary stimulus. The fight over the security bills has dominated his agenda for months.

While public opposition was fierce, the bills have been welcomed by the U.S., which wants support from its biggest Asian ally to help balance China’s growing assertiveness in the region. Other governments in Asia are also largely supportive, apart from China and South Korea, which remain at loggerheads with Japan over territorial disputes and interpretations of history.

Japanese nationalists, who tend to support Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, have longed chafed over constraints on the military. Abe took up the mantle for bolstering the defense forces from his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who was accused of war crimes for his role in the colonization of parts of China and campaigned for constitutional change when he later served as prime minister.

Sliding popularity

Still, the country’s nationalists are in the minority, and the flap over the bills has pushed Abe’s popularity toward record lows. The slide doesn’t mean he’s in danger of being replaced. He was selected unopposed this month for a second three-year term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, setting him on course to become the longest-serving premier since the 1970s. Backing for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan has barely nudged higher even with Abe’s slide.

A poll by public broadcaster NHK this month showed almost two-thirds of respondents didn’t believe Abe’s assertion the bills would make Japan safer. Support for the government in the poll stood at 43 percent, compared with 64 percent in January 2013, shortly after he took office.

In: bloomberg.com

ULTIMO MINUTO: Corea del Norte alista sus fuerzas militares contra Corea del Sur

Miles de norcoreanos participaron en una manifestación de 90 minutos en la plaza principal de Pyongyang en apoyo al llamado de Kim Yong-Un a las armas. Cantando “muerte a los imperialistas estadounidenses” y “eliminen a los agresores estadounidense”, soldados y estudiantes marcharon a través de la Plaza Kim Il Sung en el centro de Pyongyang. Estados Unidos tomó el jueves la medida sin precedentes de anunciar que dos de sus bombarderos B2 con capacidad nuclear arrojaran municiones sobre una isla surcoreana.


Corea del Norte eleva el tono de sus amenazas y apunta esta vez directamente a EEUU. Esta noche el líder Kim Jong-un ha ordenado que las unidades de misiles se pongan en estado de alerta para un posible ataque a las bases militares estadounidenses en Corea del Sur y en la zona del pacífico.

La agencia oficial del régimen norcoreano -KCNA- ha informado que Kim Jong-un firmó la orden tras una reunión con el alto mando militar del país. Según la nota informativa el líder considera que “ha llegado el momento de rendir cuentas con los imperialistas americanos”.

La situación creada por la orden del gobierno norcoreano crea de facto un clima prebélico. Según KCNA, Kim Jong-un ha puesto en marcha “un plan estratégico” que literalmente ordena a las unidades de misiles y artillería de largo alcance que estén “preparados disparar en cualquier momento hacia EEUU” ya sea en su propio territorio o en sus bases militares en el Pacífico “incluyendo las de Hawai, Guam y Corea del Sur”.

La enésima provocación de Pyongyang llega después de que Washinhton haya enviado dos bombarderos nucleares a sus bases de Corea del Sur en una excepcional demostración de fuerza. La misión pretende demostrar la capacidad de Estados Unidos “de llevar a cabo ataques de larga distancia y precisión con rapidez” y el compromiso de “defender a la República de Corea” y extender el efecto disuasorio en la región Asia Pacífico”, según un comunicado del ejército americano. Además, el Pentágono había anunciado recientemente que reforzaba su escudo antimisiles por temor a un ataque norcoreano.

El Ejército de Corea del Sur ha constatado que se han incrementado los movimientos de vehículos y tropas en la unidad de misiles de medio y largo alcance de Corea del Norte, según avanza la agencia Yonhap. Fuentes militares consultadas por esta agencia surcoreana indican que esta unidad está en “misión de combate” desde el 26 de febrero” y existe la posibilidad de que “finalmente disparen”.

La tensión en la península coreana ha crecido sensiblemente desde el tercer test nuclear realizado por Pyongyang en febrero, seguido de nuevas sanciones por parte de la ONU y ejercicios militares conjuntos de Seúl y Washington, a lo que Corea del Norte respondió suspendiendo el acuerdo de alto el fuego con su vecino del sur que puso fin a la guerra de Corea en 1953 y con numerosas amenazas de ataques.


En: Elmundo.es

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