The government says it is aimed at “peace.”
Not everyone is buying that explanation.
The opposition parties and much of the public are protesting the government’s use of that word in the titles of two security bills, one of which allows the Self-Defense Forces to use force overseas for the first time since World War II.
The two bills, endorsed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet on Thursday, are named the kokusai heiwa shien hoan (international peace support bill) and the heiwa anzen hosei seibi hoan (peace and security legislation development bill).
The word heiwa was apparently thrown in to ease public anxiety over the controversial security shift.
Katsuya Okada, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, criticized the names Thursday, saying he does not see the legislation as leading to the safety and peace of this country as Abe has repeatedly claimed.
DPJ Secretary General Yukio Edano also slammed the titles. “The fact that it highlights ‘peace’ represents the dangerous nature of its contents,” Edano said Wednesday.
Earlier this week, executive members of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party agreed to refer to the legislation as a whole as the “peace and security legislation” to counter the opposition, which has been calling it the “war legislation.”
The bills, submitted to the Diet on Friday, will mark a major turning point in Japan’s security policy if passed, by expanding the SDF’s scope abroad, loosening tight limits on weapons use during peacekeeping operations, and allowing Japan to use collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of another nation under attack, for the first time.
Last month, the LDP demanded that Social Democratic Party Deputy Chief Mizuho Fukushima retract her references to the “war legislation” in the Diet.
After she refused and the opposition parties backed her, the LDP retracted its demand.
At Thursday’s news conference after the Cabinet approved the security bills, Abe repeated that to call them “war legislation” is wrong and “irresponsible.”