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UPDATE: Upper House panel passes security bills in raucous session; protests continue

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201509170046
2015/9/17 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN



An Upper House special committee approved national security legislation on Sept. 17 after lawmakers brawled and protesters continued to surround the Diet building to demand the scrapping of the bills.

The committee’s approval paves the way for an Upper House vote on the legislation that will remove Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense and greatly expand the activities of the Self-Defense Forces overseas.

Committee members from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, junior coalition partner Komeito, and three opposition parties--the Party for Future Generations, the Assembly to Energize Japan and the New Renaissance Party--voted in favor of the bills.

Members of other opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japan Innovation Party and the Japanese Communist Party, voted against the bills.

The opposition parties took last-ditch measures on Sept. 17 to delay passage of the security legislation.

Yoshitada Konoike, chairman of the Upper House committee, opened the panel’s meeting on the morning of Sept. 17 but said final deliberations would not be held.

Opposition parties strongly objected, and Tetsuro Fukuyama, a member of the main opposition DPJ, submitted a no-confidence motion against Konoike.

The Diet must put priority on such motions, so it became impossible for the committee to approve the legislation for hours.

However, after the motion against Konoike was voted down on the strength of the coalition parties in the Upper House late in the afternoon, he returned to the chairman’s seat. The committee then railroaded the bills without final deliberations as opposition lawmakers surrounded and appeared to claw at the chairman.

The opposition parties plan to delay a vote on the bills in a plenary session of the Upper House by submitting censure motions against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in the Upper House and a no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet in the Lower House.

Although dealing with all of those motions will take time, the ruling coalition is expected to vote them down and pass the security bills in the Upper House.

The LDP and Komeito plan to hold plenary sessions of both the Lower House and the Upper House on Sept. 17.

Protesters continued their rally against the bills in front of the Diet building from the previous night, despite the rain.

“Now is a crucial phase,” a demonstrator said.

Putting up their umbrellas or wearing raincoats, they shouted, “We absolutely oppose the railroading (of the security bills).”

The lines of protesters on the sidewalks on both sides of the road leading to the Diet were about 150 meters long as of 1 p.m.

The Upper House special committee held a local public hearing at a hotel in Yokohama on Sept. 16 to give experts and others a chance to voice their opinions about the legislation.

After the hearing ended, citizens opposed to the bills surrounded cars carrying the committee members in an attempt to block their return to the Diet for the final deliberations.

Skirmishes erupted between citizens and police, and officers warned the protesters that they could be arrested.

But about 100 citizens blocked the passage of the cars by lying on the road. When officers removed the citizens, others took their place on the road.

It took about 40 minutes for several cars to pass through the road that was only about 100 meters long.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

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Liberal Democratic Party
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