Despite the death of seven Japanese aid workers in the Dhaka siege last Friday, opposition parties are putting pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the run-up to this Sunday’s Upper House election not to rewrite security laws that will give the country more powers to protect itself and its citizens. They have vowed to block any attempts by Mr Abe to revise the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defence and go to the aid of any ally under attack. Mr Abe had alluded to the possible change at a rally after the Bangladesh attack, when he stressed he will take “all possible means” to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens around the world. “We’d like to join forces with the international community to root out terrorist acts. We will firmly secure the safety of Japanese nationals both at home and abroad,” he said last Sunday.
He had said last year, after two Japanese citizens were beheaded by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria extremists, that he wanted to grant Japan’s military, the Self-Defence Forces, the right to “rescue Japanese nationals from crises overseas”, noting that there were “many Japanese workers with non-governmental organisations around the world”.
But during election campaigning which started on June 22, the Prime Minister shied away from explicitly talking about beefing up the Self-Defence Forces’ mandate in new security laws he wants to pass, and which involves amending the pacifist post-war Constitution.