(Tokyo Shimbun: January 14, 2016 – p. 31)
Until Sept. 19, 2015, no Japanese administration had approved security legislation that permitted the exercise of the right to collective self-defense. Since the passage of the new security legislation last year, however, at least 58 written statements requesting that the legislation be repealed and the people be given a thorough explanation have been passed by local assemblies and submitted to the National Diet. Tokyo Shimbun learned this in interviews with the Secretariats of the Upper and Lower Houses.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged that he would “faithfully and persistently explain [the legislation] to the people,” but clearly there is still deep-seated opposition to the legislation. Local assemblies, which have the most contact with the people, have expressed their residents’ concerns in the statements.
Written statements have been submitted by 57 local assemblies in 20 prefectures, including the prefectural assemblies of Iwate, Niigata, and Mie (Iwate Prefecture’s Oshu City Assembly has submitted two statements). A total of 47 of the statements call for the security legislation to be repealed, while four statements are either opposed to or object to the legislation and seven statements ask for prudent application of the law and for thorough explanations to be given to the people.
These statistics are as of Jan. 5. It is thought that the number will rise as similar statements passed at December assembly meetings have not yet been tabulated. The security legislation will go into force by the end of March this year.
Looking at the statements calling for the legislation to be repealed, we find that Tokyo’s Musashino City Assembly wrote: “The people of Musashino City find it questionable that legislation that will decide the future of Japan was passed by steamrolling, something which is not even recorded in the proceedings.” Ibaraki Prefecture’s Toride City Assembly wrote: “Through sheer numbers, the Diet has overridden the strong opposition of people from throughout the nation.”
Some assemblies requested that the matter be “carefully debated” when the deliberations were in session, but then shifted to demand the laws “be repealed” after they were passed. Of such assemblies, Mie Prefecture’s Komono Town Assembly said that there were “problems in the legislative process” while Kyoto Prefecture’s Kyotanabe City Assembly criticized the process, saying that “forcing the debate to end and railroading the bill through the Diet makes a mockery of parliamentary democracy.”
Even before the passage of the security legislation, local assemblies were submitting written statements to the Upper and Lower House Secretariats. In July 2014, Abe’s Cabinet approved a document that revised the government’s interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. During the one-year period from that time, local assemblies submitted 463 statements asking for the Cabinet decision to be revoked and the bills to be either scrapped or carefully deliberated.