China’s Ministry of Defense accused Japan of clinging to a “Cold War mentality,” while media
outlets noted the measures were passed a day after the 84th anniversary of Japan’s invasion of
On September 18, 1931, an explosion destroyed a section of railroad owned by a Japanese company in the Chinese city of Mukden. Japan blamed Chinese nationalists for the blast and used it as a pretext to invade several northeastern provinces.
Japanese troops occupied the region for the next 14 years.
“We will pay close attention to Japan’s next moves,” the Chinese ministry said in a statement on
Saturday. “We urge Japan to learn hard lessons from history, take seriously the security concerns
of its Asian neighbors, stick to the path of peaceful development, and do more to promote regional
peace and stability.”
South Korea also reacted to news of the policy shift. In a Foreign Ministry statement published by
Yonhap News Agency, Seoul called on its neighbor to remain dedicated to the spirit of peace.
“In deciding and implementing defense and security policy down the road, Japan will have to do so with transparency and in the direction of contributing to regional peace and stability, while maintaining the spirit of the pacifist constitution,” the statement read.
Seoul has kept a wary eye on Japan’s political maneuvering. There are still painful memories of
Japan’s colonial rule, which lasted from 1910 to 1945. Japan’s military also is accused of forcing
about 200,000 women, mainly from Korea and China, to serve as sex slaves in the 1930s and ’40s.
The legislation, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe championed, sparked fierce and vocal opposition
within Japan. Tokyo has seen massive demonstrations over the measures in recent months. And a scuffle broke out in parliament
on Thursday as opposition lawmakers in a special committee of the upper house attempted to delay a vote. But the bill ultimately passed the committee, setting the stage for Saturday’s vote.