TOKYO – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition was poised to enact contentious security laws late Friday in the Upper House after shrugging off a range of no-confidence and censure motions filed against the government earlier in the day.
The battle over the bills, which started Wednesday evening in the upper chamber and saw fists fly on Thursday, was entering its final phase as enactment loomed.
The Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling coalition was determined to pass the bills as quickly as possible, fearing a greater public furor if the vote is dragged into a long weekend used as a holiday period by many, since it involves three consecutive national holidays.
Although enactment was practically a given, opposition parties led by the Democratic Party of Japan continued to obstruct procedures in the Diet.
Five opposition parties including Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) and the Japanese Communist Party, jointly submitted a no-confidence motion in the Lower House Thursday afternoon.
Under Diet rules, when this happens all procedures are suspended in both chambers because a vote on the motion takes precedence over all other business.
The ruling bloc, which holds a majority in both chambers, voted down the no-confidence motion.
But the voting process gave opposition leaders an opportunity to deliver a speech to the nation condemning the bills and Abe’s Cabinet as the session was televised live.
The ruling camp “forcibly voted for these unconstitutional bills . . .although they have failed to win the understanding of the people and a majority of the nation is opposed to them,” declared Yukio Edano, secretary general of DPJ, in a speech during a plenary session of the Lower House.
“The worst-ever bills in the postwar years were bulldozed in the worst-ever procedure. This is outrageous,” Edano said.
The opposition parties have said Thursday’s passage of the bills by the special security committee in the Upper House was invalid.
When Yoshitada Konoike, chairman of the committee, took a vote on the bills, his voice was inaudible above the din. Moreover, stenographers were unable to record his words, opposition lawmakers said.
The bills are designed to lift various constitutional restrictions on overseas operations by the Self-Defense Forces, including the long-standing ban on the use of collective self-defense.
They would also create a permanent law to allow Japan to dispatch troops in logistical support of a U.N.-authorized multinational force.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has argued that passing the bills is essential to bolster the Japan-U.S. military alliance and thereby protect Japanese lives.
But recent media polls have shown that about 60 percent of voters oppose the bills, with 80 percent saying the government has yet to provide “sufficient explanation” about why they are needed.