History of Security Legislation: Largest Opposition Parties Influenced the Debates

The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), September 20, 2015 | Go to article overview

History of Security Legislation: Largest Opposition Parties Influenced the Debates


The history of the deliberations on bills related to security has been the history of the maneuvering between ruling and opposition parties.

Opposition parties have confronted ruling parties to drive the Cabinet into a corner, or agreed to discuss modifying bills with ruling parties to show that they too were capable of leading the government. In all cases, the future of the bills was influenced by how the largest opposition party dealt with them.

When the U.N. Peacekeeping Activities Cooperation Law was enacted in June 1992, the then largest opposition Japan Socialist Party resisted it to the bitter end. It used such tactics as the "ox walk" -- a filibuster practice aimed at blocking the passage of a bill by walking extremely slowly to the ballot box -- and lawmakers submitting letters of resignation.

With an eye on the House of Councillors election scheduled for the following month, the JSP tried to force the dissolution of the House of Representatives and bring about simultaneous elections for the lower and upper houses. However, the JSP's behavior instead drew public criticism, which sent the party's influence into decline.

Laws were enacted in May 1999 to strengthen defense cooperation with the United States, to accommodate the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation.

They were passed by a majority vote supported by parties including the Liberal Democratic Party, the now-defunct Jiyuto (Liberal Party) and then New Komeito.

Some members of the then largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan said the party should support the laws. Most of them were conservative party members who wanted to show they were capable of leading the government by stressing their position of giving priority to relations with the United States.

Due to deep-rooted objections within the party, however, the DPJ finally accepted the revised Self-Defense Forces Law and the revised Japan-U.S. Acquisition and Cross-Serving Agreement (ACSA). However, it opposed the Law Concerning Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan.

The Antiterrorism Law, which allowed the SDF to provide logistic support for U.S. and other troops in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, was enacted in October 2001 by a majority vote supported by three ruling parties -- the LDP, then New Komeito and now-defunct Hoshuto (New Conservative Party) -- and others. …

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