A million protested against the Iraq war in Britain, what hope for 20,000?
About 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Tokyo on Wednesday against the proposed law which would enable Japan to exercise “collective self-defence”- allowing its armed forces to fight alongside allies such as the US.
Nevertheless, amid protests in Japan’s Diet, and after 110 hours of debate, security bill legislation passed through a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday morning.
Conservatives such as Mr Abe are determined to revise the country’s pacifist constitution and ‘increase Japan’s role on the international stage’.
The bill is now set for a vote in the full lower house on Thursday where it is almost certain to pass, given the government majority. If the bill does not pass the upper house within 60 days, the lower house can push it through with another vote so it is likely to become law by the end of September. The bill will then head to the upper house for another protracted debate, keeping it in the public eye, and sapping Mr Abe’s popularity further.
A survey by Asahi Shimbun, conducted on Saturday and Sunday, found a 42% disapproval rate for the Cabinet, exceeding the approval rating for the first time since November. The planned reactivation of the nuclear reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture could further eat away at the Cabinet’s ratings.
In April Gerald Curtis (WSJ) professor of political science at Columbia, wrote:
“The U.S. is and will remain for years to come the dominant power in East Asia, but it no longer enjoys the position of unchallengeable supremacy that it had in years past. This reality was made all too evident in recent days by the rush of its allies, excepting Japan, to sign up as founding members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite U.S. entreaties not to do so . . .
“Mr. Abe can offer a fitting commemoration of the end of the war by spelling out his view of the past. He can give his vision of the future and how he believes Japan can contribute to building an Asia-Pacific community stretching from the U.S. to India”.