15 Jul 15. Japan’s Lower House votes approves expanded military. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s disputed new security bills have passed through the lower house in Tokyo. Demonstrators have gathered by the thousands to protest the increased militarization of Japan’s Self-Defense Force. Despite its unpopularity with the public, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed his new security bill through the lower house of parliament on Thursday. It now goes on to the upper house, where it has 60 days to be passed. The proposed laws would greatly expand the role of the Japanese military, the so-called Self-Defense Force, which has maintained a strictly preventative function for decades, following Japan’s post-World War II pacifist constitution. It would also drop a ban on fighting to defend a friendly country like the United States and make it easier for Japan to get involved in “gray zone” incidents falling short of outright war. Abe explained that the bills were necessary because “the security situation around Japan is getting tougher,” alluding to a rising China. Outspoken opposition
But while his tougher security stance is welcomed in Washington, other lawmakers were not so pleased at what they saw as an attempt to turn the country’s constitution on its head. When a House of Representatives panel, dominated by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) gave their approval for the measures to move forward to debate on Wednesday, opposition lawmakers held banners to protest the “forced” passage.
“Prime Minister Abe, you should admit you have not obtained the people’s understanding and immediately withdraw the bills,” said opposition Democratic Party leader Katsuya Okada ahead of Thursday’s vote, arguing the measures would allow Japan to become entangled in its allies’ conflicts across the globe.
On the streets of Tokyo, thousands of protesters – organizers claimed 100,000 – took to the streets all night to voice their displeasure with the bill. Chanting and carrying placards that read “No War, No Killing” and “Abe, quit” they planned to stay in front of parliament all day Thursday, with more demonstrations planned for the coming weeks.
If the law falls to pass the upper house within 60 days, it goes back to the House of Representatives where it could be enacted by Abe’s coalition if they manage a two-thirds majority vote. (Source: defence-aerospace.com/Deutsche Welle German radio)
16 Jul 15. The Philippines will station new fighter jets and two frigates at the former U.S. naval facility in Subic Bay from early next year, officials said, the first time the massive installation has functioned as a military base in 23 years. Using Subic Bay would allow the Philippine air force and navy to respond more effectively to Chinese moves in the disputed South China Sea, security experts said. Subic Bay’s deep-water harbour lies on the western side of the main Philippine island of Luzon, opposite the South China Sea.
“The value of Subic as a military base was proven by the Americans. Chinese defence planners know that,” said Rommel Banlaoi, a Philippine security expert.
Once one of the biggest U.S. naval facilities in the world, Subic Bay was shut in 1992 after the Philippine Senate terminated a bases agreement with Washington at the end of the Cold War.
Manila converted the facility, which was never home to the Philippine military, into an economic zone. Defence Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino told Reuters the Philippine military signed an agreement in May with the zone’s operator, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, to use parts of the installation under a renewable 15-year lease. U.S. warships have called regularly at Subic Bay since 2000, but only to dock during exercises with the Philippine military or to use its commercial facilities for repairs and resupply. Officials said once Subic Bay was a military base again, the U.S. Navy could have much greater access to it under a year-old agreement that gives U.S. troops broad use of lo