The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the Komeito party, agreed Wednesday on a plan to put controversial national security bills to a vote at a House of Councillors committee Sept 16, paving the way for their passage into law at an upper house plenary session possibly later that day.
However, a vote at a plenary session could be pushed back to Sept 17 or 18 if opposition parties submit a no-confidence motion to the Diet against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to ruling party lawmakers.
Senior lawmakers from six opposition parties agreed the same day to “never allow (the coalition) to push the bills through” the upper chamber, as was the case in the House of Representatives in July. The ruling coalition controls a majority in both chambers of the Diet.
LDP Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki and his Komeito counterpart Yoshihisa Inoue affirmed the plan for the bills, which were introduced by the government to expand the role of the Self-Defense Forces abroad.
The opposition parties, arguing that Diet deliberations are insufficient, will demand that the upper house hold a public hearing on the bills outside Tokyo and take other measures to promote debate, according to opposition lawmakers.
The parties also expressed dissatisfaction that the LDP-Komeito coalition voted at an upper house panel Tuesday to hold a public hearing on the bills next Tuesday in Tokyo despite objections from the opposition camp. Holding a Tokyo hearing is a prerequisite for putting the bills to a vote.
The six include the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japan Innovation Party and the Japanese Communist Party. A group of independents also took part in the meeting with the six parties.
The six parties will coordinate to arrange a meeting of their leaders on Friday to discuss ways to block the coalition’s moves to enact the bills next week.
If enacted, the new legislation will put into effect a landmark Cabinet decision in July last year that reinterpreted the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of the United States and other friendly nations under armed attack, even if Japan itself is not attacked.
Opposition lawmakers and constitutional scholars have criticized the bills and say the envisaged security policy shift—which could allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II—would violate the nation’s war-renouncing Constitution.
Successive governments have interpreted the Constitution to mean that Japan possesses the right to collective self-defense but cannot use it.