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Japan parliament passes bills promoting patriotism, defense ministry

[JURIST] Japan's upper house of Parliament on Friday passed two bills lauded by proponents as bolstering national confidence, one elevating the Defense Agency [official website] to its pre-World War II status as a full ministry, and the other mandating that Japanese classrooms "cultivate an attitude that respects tradition and culture, that loves the nation and home country." The education bill withstood a no-confidence vote brought by opposition leaders against the cabinet of new conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official website; BBC profile], accused of planting officials as audience members at town hall meetings on the patriotism reforms. The Washington Post has more. The Japan Times has local coverage, in English.

Abe, who assumed office in September, ran on a campaign platform [IHG report] promoting amendment of Japan's pacifist constitution [text], which forbids "the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes" - a restriction imposed by the victorious US after 1945 which Japan [JURIST news archive] fears could hinder its ability to respond to a crisis [JURIST report] involving, for example, North Korea [JURIST news archive].

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