POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS

Photos: Japan’s lawmakers have a fistfight over pacifism

Japanese legislators who want to protect the country’s 70-year tradition of pacifism resorted to violence today (Sept. 17) to defend their ideals.

Photos of a violent scuffle in a legislative committee meeting this morning reveal the depth of controversy in Japan over a new security bill. The measure, backed by prime minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling coalition, would expand Japan’s Self Defense Forces’ mandate, allowing it to assist overseas allies. Since 1947, when the country’s post World War Two constitution was enacted, Japan’s military has been restricted to acting only in cases of self-defense.

According to the BBC, this apparent shift toward remilitarization is not supported by the majority of Japanese.

In an ultimately futile attempt to prevent a vote from taking place, opposition lawmakers mobbed committee chairman Yoshitada Konoike, and deputy chairman Masahisa Sato. The bill was approved anyway, and is headed to the parliament’s upper chamber for a final vote.

Controversial new security bill in parliament
Opposition lawmakers surround Masahisa Sato (C-L), deputy chairman of the upper chamber special committee on security legislation. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama.
Controversial new security bill in parliament
Opposition lawmakers try to cover the face of Masahisa Sato, deputy chairman of the upper chamber special committee on security legislation. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama.
Security bills passes at Japan's parliamentary committee
Opposition lawmakers and ruling lawmakers mob around Yoshitada Konoike. The legislator in green is Hiroe Makiyama. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

 

Security legislation discussed at Japanese Parliament
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he waits for the start of a final session at the upper chamber special committee on security legislation at the parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 16 September 2015. EPA/Franck Robichon

 

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