Japan’s parliament approves controversial military reform bills

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Japan’s parliament approved security bills early Saturday allowing the military to act in “collective self-defence” if the country’s interests are threatened at home or abroad.

The passage of the bills mean that Japanese forces could, for the first time, operate overseas since the end of World War II.

The powerful lower house pushed through the legislation in July, and the upper chamber followed on Saturday after days of protests.

Critics say the action violates the pacifist constitution established after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

On Friday, the opposition introduced a censure motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to block the military reform bills, a day after the proposal sparked disorder and disruption in the upper house.

The Democratic Party of Japan is opposed to the bills that would allow the use of military force in support of allies attacked overseas.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had been trying to vote on the bills since Wednesday, but the procedure was stalled by opposition lawmakers, who at one point blocked a corridor in the Diet building.

More than 10,000 people took to the streets this week against the legislation.

In August, tens of thousands of protesters took part in rallies across the country calling for Abe to protect the constitution or quit.

In July 2014, Abe’s cabinet approved the expansion of the military’s role overseas by reinterpreting the pacifist constitution. Article 9 of the charter prohibits the use of force to settle international disputes.

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