Shinzo Abe

China accuses Japan of destabilising regional security after Tokyo approves security bills

Japanese troops can fight overseas for the first time since the second world war. Many are concerned this could fundamentally the pacifist nation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 September, 2015, 6:32am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 September, 2015, 4:23pm

China on Saturday accused Japan of destabilising regional security after its parliament approved contentious security bills expanding the role of its military overseas.

Calling the approval an “unprecedented” step taken by post-war Japan, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement that Japan’s “recent military buildup and drastic changes to its military and security policies are out of step with the trend of the times featuring peace, development and cooperation.”

The passage of the bills took place a day after China marked the 84th anniversary of the Mukden Incident, which led to the launch of Japan’s invasion of China’s northeastern provinces.

Japan’s Self-Defence Forces can now defend the United States and other allies that come under attack, which previous governments have regarded as counter to its war-renouncing Constitution.

The spokesman said the change makes China and the rest of the world wonder if Japan will abandon the exclusive defence policy it has been maintaining since the end of the second world war.

“We solemnly urge Japan to learn hard lessons from history, pay heed to the chorus of justice from within the country and abroad, take seriously security concerns of its Asian neighbours, stick to the path of peaceful development, act with discretion on military and security issues and do more to promote regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite,” Hong said.

Despite last-ditch efforts by opposition parties and thousands of protesters gathered in front of parliament, the Japanese bills cleared the upper house early Saturday, making them into law.

Opponents argue that passage has violated Japan’s postwar pacifist Constitution and the country is now at risk of being dragged into unwanted conflicts abroad.

Worried by new security threats such as China’s growing assertiveness in regional waters, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believed that the relaxation of postwar constraints on its armed forces’ overseas activities was a must.

The United States, Japan’s most important security ally, and some other countries welcomed Abe’s decision to expand the role of the SDF, which they believe will contribute to promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.

China does not want to see Japan to strengthen its security cooperation with the United States in the region.

The enactment of the bills also came at a delicate time for China, where bitter memories of Japan’s wartime aggression still run deep.

One article, published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, said it is ironic that the enactment was completed in the year of the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war and 84 years from the day Japan launched its aggression against China.

Abe, in his statement issued in August to mark the anniversary of the end of the war, said, “Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war” with “the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations.”

On September 18, 1931, Japanese military officers blew up a portion of a Japanese-controlled railroad in Mukden, what is now known as Shenyang, and blamed it on Chinese dissidents. This marked the start of the Manchurian Incident.

The commentary said, “84 years later, [Japan] led by Abe betrayed its 70-year pacifist stance and is marching again on a road to war under the same banner of “self-defence” it used decades ago when it waged a war of aggression in Asian countries.”

With the establishment of a puppet state in northeastern China in 1932, Japan controlled the region known as Manchuria until its defeat in the second world war in 1945.