Scuffles break out in Japan's parliament

Tensions run high over new security bill

Scuffles in Japan's Parliament Over Security Bills
Scuffling and shouts broke out in Japan's parliament on Thursday as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepared to pass new security bills.

The heated debate was over a bill that could see the military fight abroad for the first time in decades.

Members of the opposition and the ruling coalition pushed and shoved each other as a committee chairman was surrounded, reports The Guardian.

Tensions ran high after the committee vote was repeatedly delayed on Wednesday night, as opposition MPs blocked doorways and packed the corridors of parliament in protest.

Thirteen people were also reportedly arrested during the evening for 'interfering with officers' during a rally of an estimated 13,000 people outside parliament in Tokyo.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to vent their anger during almost daily rallies over the past weeks, a show of public feeling on a scale rarely seen in Japan.

Controversial bill

Under the planned changes, the military - known as the self-defence forces - would have the option of going into battle to protect allies such as the United States even if there was no direct threat to Japan or its people.

Many Japanese feel strongly a change in the law would alter the country's pacifist character. The bill could potentially become law this week.

Many legal scholars have said the changes are unconstitutional, and critics worry they would drag Japan into US wars in far-flung parts of the globe.

Abe and his supporters say changes are necessary to deal with a security environment marked by an increasingly assertive China and unpredictable North Korea.