Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party), the second largest opposition party, adopted counterproposals to the Abe administration’s security bills on Thursday, attaching tougher conditions for the Self-Defense Forces to use force in certain contingency scenarios.
One of the pillars of Ishin’s bills is to ban exercising the right to collective self-defense for economic reasons alone — such as protecting crude oil shipments to Japan. It stipulates that the use of force would be allowed only when there is clear danger of Japan coming under “armed attack.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested the bills his administration has proposed may allow Japan to exercise the right if the country is facing an economic crisis, such as a disruption to the country’s oil imports.
Ishin’s bills would also maintain the current geographical limits of “areas around Japan” where the SDF is allowed to provide logistics support to foreign forces, most notably the U.S. military.
The Abe administration’s security bills would eliminate geographical limits on the SDF, which could be dispatched anywhere in the world to support an allied foreign military if the government determines a situation could endanger Japan.
Ishin plans to explain their own version of the security bills to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Komeito, and the Democratic Party of Japan on Friday.
But whether Ishin will actually submit its own bills to the Diet remains to be seen, because it’s unlikely they will be enacted.The LDP-Komeito ruling bloc now reportedly plans to bulldoze the government security bills through the Lower House around July 15, leaving little chance for Ishin’s version to be passed.
Some Ishin members seem to fear the party wouldn’t be able to boycott Diet sessions if the party submits alternative bills to the Diet, making it easier for the ruling bloc to enact government-sponsored bills.
Other Ishin members, particularly those elected from Osaka, are reportedly willing to help the LDP-Komeito bloc to enact the government bills.
Yorihisa Matsuno, leader of Ishin, said his heart is “swaying” between submitting its bills to the Diet or refrain from doing so.
“To tell you the truth, I still think it is meaningless to submit bills if it won’t pass the Diet,” Matsuno said during a press conference held later in the day. But part of him also thinks it is a good opportunity to make an appeal for their legislation to show the party’s stance through deliberations at the Diet, he said.
Matsuno said the party will make the final decision about its next step after seeing how other parties and the public react to its alternative bills.
Thus the last-minute political tug-of-war within Ishin is expected to continue as the Lower House is set for a showdown over the fate of Abe’s controversial security bills.
The LDP-Komeito ruling bloc can ram the bills through the Diet without any support from the opposition camp because it holds a majority in both the Lower and Upper houses.
But the two parties are reluctant to do so as it could damage their public support rates and affect the outcome of future elections. Instead they are trying to secure Ishin’s participation in Diet sessions and its consent to hold a vote on the government-sponsored bills in the Lower House.
If Ishin agrees to cooperate with the ruling camp, it would dilute the impression among the public that the ruling camp is attempting to bulldoze the bills through the Diet.