Tue, 24 Nov 2020

BEIJING/TOKYO - Japan is endangering peace in the region with its controversial laws expanding the role of its military abroad, which were passed this weekend, according to Beijing.

China's defence ministry said Japan should learn "profound lessons from history" and said the new laws "run counter to the trend of the times that upholds peace, development and co-operation".

The vote enables Japan to go to war by allowing Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since the end of World War Two 70 years ago.

The constitution up until now has only allowed troops to be mobilised for a direct threat on the Japanese mainland.

Tensions between Beijing and Tokyo have escalated over a group of islands to which both lay claim, with Japan recently increasing military spending to defend the islands.

The security laws were voted through Japan's upper house late on Friday, with 148 lawmakers voting in support while 90 voted against.

The vote followed nearly 200 hours of political wrangling, including scuffles breaking out at various points between the bills' supporters and opposition members.

The Japanese government says that the changes to defence policy are vital to meet the new military challenges facing Japan, such as those posed from a rising China.

But China's defence ministry said "the move has breached the restrictions of Japan's pacifist constitution".

Many Japanese who opposed the bills and staged large public protests were also concerned by the reversals of the pacifist provisions in the constitution that banned fighting overseas.

China urged Japan to "heed the security concern" of its Asian neighbours and do more to promote regional peace and stability.

South Korea has warned Tokyo not to exercise the new defence laws without its approval, but South Korea and Japan's common allies, the US and US, have both welcomed the new laws.

Critics have focused on what they say is ambiguity in the legislation allowing various interpretations of its principles, opening the door to the possibility that future governments will interpret them more broadly.

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