The debate in Japan’s legislature, the Diet, has been fierce: For weeks, leaders and outside experts have been cross-examining one another over the implications of Abe’s reinterpretation of the officially (and, admittedly, pretty unambiguously) pacifist clause in the country’s constitution. Now, the Japan Times reports that the Japan’s ruling LDP is set to push through a vote in the lower house of the Diet on two bills that would authorize the use of military force. The crucial vote could come as early as Thursday. The opposition is trying to delay, boycotting a preliminary meeting on the vote today and calling for continued discussion through next week. But it doesn’t appear likely that they’ll stop the Thursday vote. The LDP has a majority in the lower house and it leads a coalition that comprises a majority in the upper house.
Japan has a major role to play in helping balance Chinese power in the region, and for that it needs strategic and military force at its disposal. But the Japanese people seem to have (quite understandably) internalized their country’s official post-war pacifism over the past seven decades. Though they reelected Abe this past December in a snap election that analysts took as a referendum on his push towards militarism, public opinion remains staunchly opposed to the bills. Protests were staged across the country over the weekend, and the latest poll shows a mere 26 percent in favor of the bills, with 56 percent opposed.
Whatever happens in the Diet this week (or later, in the unlikely event that the opposition succeeds at playing for time) will have huge ramifications for the future of Asia, and the world.