Date
17 August 2017
Protesters holding placards shout slogans at a rally in Tokyo Monday against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to expand Japan's military role. Photo: Reuters
Protesters holding placards shout slogans at a rally in Tokyo Monday against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to expand Japan's military role. Photo: Reuters

Abe’s move on defense policy fuels tensions

Shinzo Abe’s move to overturn the pacifist defense policy to make it easier for Japanese troops to fight in overseas conflicts has sparked an intense debate and fueled criticism in his country. 

On Tuesday, Japan took a historic step away from its post-war pacifism by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad, marking a victory for Abe.

But the move, which has riled China, has met with criticism from many Japanese voters.

Since the prime minister started public briefings on the move last month, his cabinet’s approval rating has sagged to 45 percent, the lowest rating since it was formed in December 2012, Financial Times reported.

Polls taken by three Japanese dailies within the past week showed that at least half of respondents opposed the idea of Japan exercising its right to collective self-defense, it noted.

Thousands took to the streets around parliament on Monday and Tuesday, some waving posters depicting Abe with a swastika tattoo and Hitler moustache.

On Sunday, a man set himself alight in central Tokyo, apparently in protest at the policy. He remains in a serious condition in hospital.

Critics have accused the Abe government of abusing its parliamentary majority to railroad a reinterpretation of the constitution.

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RA/RC

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