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Friday, May 16, 2003
Attack-response bills passed without any trouble from DPJ
The House of Representatives passed a package of three bills Thursday outlining Japan's response to military contingencies in a plenary session during which no member of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan boycotted in protest of the legislation.
The ruling camp, comprising the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party, voted in favor of the contentious bills, which address an issue that has been the focus of heated political battles for three decades.
The DPJ supported the package after reaching a compromise over its wording earlier in the week, while the Liberal Party also endorsed the end product.
The bills were immediately sent to the House of Councilors, which is expected to pass them by the middle of next month.
The Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party meanwhile voted against the bills, saying they run counter to the spirit of the war-renouncing Constitution and will increase the possibility of Japan becoming embroiled in a war or other military conflict.
DPJ leaders had been concerned that some former SDP members among its ranks, led by Takahiro Yokomichi, party vice president, might boycott the vote to protest against the DPJ's leadership. But their fears were unfounded: Almost every DPJ lawmaker stood up in support of the legislation.
Yokomichi later told reporters that while the bills have been improved by the DPJ-proposed revisions, they still only rate "52 points" out of a full 100.
The bills are still problematic, he said, adding he will continue to point out their shortcomings during Upper House deliberations.