Five opposition parties on Friday submitted two bills that aim to scrap controversial security laws enacted last year in a challenge to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stance on the role of Japan’s armed forces.
The Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and three other opposition parties claim the government’s approval to exercise the right to collective self-defense in the legislation is unconstitutional.
The parties filed the bills to the House of Representatives ahead of the government putting the security laws into effect on March 29. By jointly presenting the bills to the Diet, the five parties aim to make this a campaign issue for a House of Councillors election in the summer.
The three other parties who co-authored the bills are the Japan Innovation Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Life Party.
Before presenting the bills, leaders of the five parties agreed to cooperate in Diet activities and national elections with the goal of scrapping the security laws and eventually toppling the Abe government.
“The five parties will cooperate so we can force the ruling parties into a minority,” DPJ President Katsuya Okada told reporters after holding talks with four other opposition leaders.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party forms the ruling coalition with the Komeito party.
Secretaries general of the five parties will enter into talks to determine specific tactics they will use in the fight against the ruling coalition, according to opposition lawmakers.
The LDP-led coalition controls a majority in the upper house and a two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower house.
The bills call for the abolition of the two security laws—a law comprising revisions to 10 existing security-related laws and a new permanent law allowing the Self-Defense Forces to provide logistical support to foreign militaries in international peacekeeping activities.
The first law, including revisions to the SDF law, allows the country 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.
Abe and other proponents say the law boosts Japan’s deterrence capability amid an increasingly tense security environment in the region. China’s military buildup and rising territorial ambitions, as well as North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development are factors driving the government’s position.
Speaking at a news conference Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government-sponsored laws are the “best legislation” within the scope of the Constitution.
Referring to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test last month and rocket launch earlier this month, which is regarded by many nations as a long-range ballistic missile test, Suga said, “When thinking about the security environment surrounding our country, I think it was really good that (the Diet) enacted the laws” with the backing of the ruling coalition and three minor opposition parties.
LDP Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki criticized Friday’s action by the five opposition parties.
“If they had planned to submit the bills, they should have presented views about Japan’s security at the Budget Committee and other functions (at the Diet). But they hardly voiced their position,” Tanigaki said at a news conference.
In a related move, the DPJ and the JIP on Thursday submitted to the lower house three bills as counterproposals to the security laws.
The bills advocate expanding the scope of the SDF’s activities without exercising the right to collective self-defense.