45,000 Japanese protesters rallied outside of parliament today, clashing with police and demanding that the government scrap plans to revise the legal status of the Japanese military to allow them to fight overseas in US-led wars.
Since 1945, Japan’s constitution has been explicitly pacifist, forbidding all overseas war-fighting. Polls show a solid majority, 54%-29%, oppose the legislation, and 68% want to see the bill delayed beyond the current session to allow more debate. It is widely expected to be voted on, and passed, later this week.
What will change? That’s not clear. The Abe government insists it will only allow “collective self-defense,” but military officials are bragging that “there is almost nothing we cannot do” that the US is liable to ask in overseas conflict under the new laws.
Some are concerned that the Abe government is underestimating how much the US is liable to ask for, however, and while Abe is couching it as something that will lead to a new round of war planning for a joint US-Japan war against China, officials concede that the US is probably in the long-run going to want Japan to join bigger overseas wars outside of Japan’s direct interest, like the ongoing ISIS war.
A nation that hasn’t fought wars in generations, the Japanese public isn’t likely to accept such deployments easily. Yet historically the Japanese government has used its constitution as an easy out for saying no to the US on such wars, and in getting rid of that, some worry they’ll face a backlash among US leaders if they resist America’s calls to join these wars.
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