China has accused Japan’s “warlord” prime minister, Shinzo Abe, of threatening peace in the region, following the enactment on Tuesday of controversial laws allowing Japanese troops to fight on foreign soil for the first time since the end of the second world war. The security laws, which were passed last September after chaotic scenes in parliament, reinterpret the country’s pacifist constitution to enable Japan to exercise collective self-defence – or coming to the aid of the US and other allies – in overseas conflicts.
In an online commentary, the state-run Xinhua news agency accused Abe of abandoning Japan’s postwar constitution, which limits the military to a purely defensive role, saying the move would “only serve to endanger the Japanese public’s right to live in peace”.
The legislation, the biggest shift in Japan’s defence posture since its wartime defeat in August 1945, would also “pose a severe challenge to peace in the Asia-Pacific region, which is already vulnerable”, the commentary said.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic party and its coalition partner pushed the laws through parliament, despite mass protests and warnings that Japanese troops could become embroiled in foreign wars.
Abe insists the self-imposed ban on collective self-defence inhibited Japan’s ability to respond to new security threats in the region, including North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and more assertive Chinese naval activity.
Japan and China are embroiled in a longrunning row over ownership of theSenkaku islands in the East China Sea, while Tokyo has voiced support for the Philippines and other countries in their opposition to Beijing’s construction of bases in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
Tensions between Beijing and Tokyo rose again this week after Japan switched on a radar station in the East China Sea, giving it a permanent intelligence-gathering post close to Taiwan and the Senkakus, known as the Diaoyu in China.
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