Asian Geopolitics
Japan’s Self-Defense Bills Stalling

Facing obstructionist moves from minority parties in the Diet (Japan’s parliament), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moved to extend the current session for an unprecedented 95 days—through September 27—so as to not have his security bills die on the floor. The Japan Times:

“I want to see a thorough debate (on the bills) using the 95-day extension,” Abe told reporters after the vote. “In seeking (the bills’) passage, I’ll ensure our explanation will be thorough.” […]

A bill will be scrapped at the end of a legislative session unless lawmakers go through procedures to carry it over to the next session. Thus opposition lawmakers have been trying to prolong deliberations of the controversial security bills as long as possible.

Facing reporters after the Abe-Yamaguchi meeting, Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said the two parties had decided to extend the session partly because public support for the bills has yet to “sufficiently prevail.”

“I think it’s true that it is difficult to understand the bills at first glance,” Tanigaki said.

That public support has yet to “sufficiently prevail” is a lovely euphemism for the situation the LDP finds itself. Public opinion continues to turn against the measures, with a poll taken over the weekend finding that 63.1 percent thinking that the bills should not be enacted during the current legislative session, up 8 points from last month. 56.7 percent believe the bills are unconstitutional, with only 29.2 percent thinking that they are not.

Though some have argued that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, first formed in the 1950s, have always been usable should the right circumstances arise, and that therefore the bills being debated in the Diet are of secondary importance, it would be a mistake to think that a setback for Abe here would be without consequences. China, for one, is sure to be watching carefully as the debate evolves.

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