TOKYO: Controversial security bills that opponents say will undermine 70 years of pacifism and could see Japanese troops fighting abroad for the first time since WWII passed through the powerful lower house of parliament Thursday.
After impassioned speeches from senior lawmakers, opposition parties boycotted the ballot, which will loosen the shackles on the country’s military, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition approving the legislation.
“The security situation surrounding Japan is increasingly severe,” Abe told reporters after the vote, in an apparent reference to the rise of China.
“These bills are necessary to protect Japanese people’s lives and prevent a war before it breaks out.”
The bills are now expected to move to the upper chamber.
While Abe’s coalition also has a majority in the upper house, commentators say it is possible the chamber could reject, or amend the bills.
However, the lower house can overturn those changes with a two-thirds majority—well within the scope of what Abe controls.