Japan’s parliament has voted to redefine its constitution and shift away from pacifist policies that have defined its military policy for the past seventh years.
Japan’s post-World War II Constitution cracked down on the military and engagement overseas. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces had been restricted to humanitarian uses. However, they will now be allowed to fight overseas in limited engagement.
Article 9 of the Constitution reads, “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”
The new legislation is a top priority of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and passed in the upper house, 148-90. The legislation passed the lower house in July.
The changes have been hotly contested in Japan. There have been numerous protests and deliberations in parliament turned physical at one point. The pacifist constitution has had a cultural impact on the Japanese.
The SDF will now be allowed to get involved to defend allies, such as the United States and South Korea. Washington heavily pushed for the legislation and has called for Japan to expand its military capabilities. America is required to defend Japan, due to a treaty signed.
China criticized the move and said it was “unprecedented.” Part of the reason Washington supported the policy change was to counter the increasingly strong China. Seoul reluctantly backed the measure and called on Japan to remain peaceful. South Korea is a close ally of Japan and Japan’s forces can now step in to help Seoul.