Japan upper house committee OKs security bills, faces resistance

Japan upper house committee OKs security bills, faces resistance
PHOTO: Reuters

The House of Councillors special committee on security legislation on Thursday afternoon passed the government-sponsored security bills, which would enable limited exercise of the right of collective self-defence and other measures, with a majority vote from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its coalition partner Komeito and three other parties.

The battle between the ruling and opposition parties over the security bills raged on in the upper house on Thursday, as members of the opposition employed delaying tactics to block the passage of the bills.

Yoshitada Konoike, chairman of the special committee, decided to end committee deliberations on the security bills on his own authority during a board meeting of committee directors Thursday morning. In response, the Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties submitted a no-confidence motion against the chairman. However, the motion was later voted down.

The committee moved on to vote for the security legislation soon after the motion was rejected. With the success of having passed the bills at the committee level, the ruling parties were pushing for a vote in the plenary session of the upper house by the end of Thursday.

The opposition forces intend to continue their fierce resistance by submitting a censure motion against the prime minister and other ministers of state in the upper house and a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet in the House of Representatives to further delay the proceedings. Given the chaos, the enactment of the bills may be pushed back till late Friday.

The committee was scheduled to start a final question and answer session at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday to wrap up its deliberations on the security bills. However, opposition party members put up strong resistance by preventing committee directors from entering a chamber to hold their board meeting and by taking other action, which caused a significant delay to the proceedings.

The board meeting of the directors went into recess at around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday.

At a little past 9 a.m., Konoike declared the opening of the committee meeting, at which the opposition party members went into a rage. It was after this that the chairman decided to end committee deliberations on the security bills during a meeting of the directors.

Konoike then again declared the opening of the committee meeting, after which the opposition submitted a censure motion against the chairman. The opposition, obviously unhappy with the way the motion was going to be treated, put up another fight, but deliberations on the motion finally started at 1 p.m. The motion was later rejected.

The ruling parties are maintaining their stance of having the security bills enacted in the upper house. However, some members hold the view that they have no option but to apply the so-called 60-day rule if the chaos continues, prompting the parties to weigh their options. By a constitutional provision, the lower house can enact a bill with two-thirds majority support in a second vote if the upper house fails to vote on it within 60 days of receiving it from the lower house.

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