MOSCOW (Sputnik), Alexander Mosesov — The United States is looking forward to the adoption of new security bills by the Japanese lawmakers envisaging an extension of the country's Self-Defense Forces rights, experts told Sputnik on Tuesday.
On Sunday, nationwide protests erupted in Japan in opposition to the security bills debated in the country’s House of Councillors. The bills, already passed by the House of Representatives, envisage for the first time since WWII, more powers and rights for the Self-Defense Forces and their operations overseas.
ENDORSED BY US
Apart from the country's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the extension of these rights is also in the interests of the United States, experts explain.
"Abe argues they would send a very positive message to the world community, namely that Japan will fulfill its responsibilities to help maintain world peace. Of course, the world community is divided, so that message would at most only be received by the US and its allies," Paul Midford, the Director of the Japan Program at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU), told Sputnik.
Les Jacobs, the Director of the Institute for Social Research at the York University, expressed a similar view, saying that it was largely the United States that "prescribed the current military policy out of concerns about preserving American military hegemony in the Pacific."
Speaking of the reasons for supporting the rights extension by the Diet (Japanese Parliament), Shihoko Goto, a Senior Associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Asia Program, reminded that the United States welcomed Japan’s moves to enhance its own defense capabilities, "in part due to its own commitments across the globe beyond the Asia-Pacific."
Both countries agreed to deepen defense cooperation in April, when Abe had a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama.
"One danger for Japan is that the US will expect more military support, including combat support from Japan, in future conflicts, thereby increasing Japan’s risk of entrapment in conflicts that might not be in its national interest,” Midford summarized.
REPROACHED BY CHINA
Meanwhile, Jacobs pointed out that Japan's goal is to show the world it is one of the largest economies, and also a strong military power.
"I suspect that concerns about Japan's WWII legacy have largely faded — despite China's efforts to keep those legacies in the forefront — and that the earlier policy appears to many as out-dated. My guess is that Japan wants to reiterate that not only is it still the third largest economy in the world but also can in the global context have a military presence if needed," Jacobs said.
Shihoko Goto said that Japan's defense capabilities enhancement and contribution to collective self-defense efforts would allow the country "to take a realist approach to a changing world."
"That said, not only is there great opposition within Japan, there is also vocal concern from neighboring China as well as Korea about what those moves could mean. This ties in directly with the ongoing tensions over historical memory between the three East Asian countries," Goto said.
PROTESTS WON'T HELP
"Almost by definition, political protests only directly involve a small minority of voters," director of the Japan Program at NTNU said, reminding that similar large-scale demonstrations in July did not prevent the House of Representatives from approving these extensions.
Shihoko Goto also said that the protests will not stop the Diet from passing the bills, explaining that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) together with its coalition Komeito Party, have a majority.
"What could overturn this is if the Komeito Party were to not align with the LDP, but that is currently unlikely," Goto said.
Director of the Institute for Social Research at the York University Les Jacobs, however, noted that Japan has a very long history of effective protests targeting policy changes and social issues.
"These protests have often been able to prevent major changes or bring about amendments," Jacobs noted.
Earlier on Monday, a representative of Japan’s SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) action group that called for the Sunday protests told Sputnik that she believes the nationwide opposition would support the existing trend of lowering approval rates of the government.