The above scene of Japanese elected officials climbing on top of each other like extras in a Pearl Jam music video made headlines worldwide much to the country’s chagrin. And it was in this way that Japan has officially reinterpreted its constitution to allow military deployment to other parts of the world for the first time since World War II.

Yes, rather than through persuasive speech and the rational debate that government was designed to produce, the future course of Japan had been steered by underhanded tricks, shoving matches, and even a decoy legislation made of a One Piece advert.

But were these uncivilized tactics motivated by honest passion and the sheer intensity of the situation, or were the elite of Japanese society simply showing their true nature of political impotence? To find out, let’s take a look at how the whole fracas started.

■ Stacked deck
Up until the events of the past week, the Japanese Diet spent over 200 hours debating the proposed changes to Japan’s policy of pacifism. After passing through the Lower House, dominated by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), it went for further deliberation and final approval to the Upper House, which also has a majority of LDP members.

By the numbers alone, it was a foregone conclusion that the bills would be approved. However, emboldened by large-scale protests and surveys suggesting a majority of citizens were against the bills, the opposition parties decided to take unorthodox actions to buy some time.

■ Hell no, Konoike won’t go!
On 16 September, a committee was called to discuss the security bills. However, it was widely assumed that the discussion would be concluded and voting would take place that evening to send the bills for their final vote in the Upper House. With a holiday weekend approaching, there was a high chance that protester numbers could swell greatly and weaken the LDP’s momentum.

So, in an effort to stall the vote, a group of opposition party members, made up mostly of women wearing pink headbands, picketed a room containing the committee chairman Yoshitada Konoike, trapping him inside. Since he was unable to attend, the meeting was unable to start, and so no vote occurred that night.

However, as Prime Minister Abe sat in the empty chamber until the wee hours of the morning arms folded and head nodding, Konoike was busy plotting his revenge…and possibly napping as well.

■  Konoike strikes back
The chairman concocted a scheme that was called “Konoike’s Coup D’Etat” by other party members. The first step was to call another session on the afternoon of Friday, 17 September. However, the purpose of this meeting was not to discuss the security bills but a motion of no-confidence against Konoike himself, which had been put forward by opposition members to further gum up the works.

Opposition party members believed this and let the committee meet, because even if they could stall the vote longer, it would still eventually return to the Lower House who could pass the bills all by themselves under what is called the “60-Day Rule.”

And so, feeling as if they had won the day, the weary opposition members showered up and got ready for another session at 4:00 p.m.

■  The stage was set
Chairman Konoike walked into the chamber and bowed to all in attendance before taking his seat. Then Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) member Tetsuro Fukuyama began to walk towards Konoike asking what was on the agenda.

Just then, about 10 or so LDP lawmakers surrounded Konoike forming a protective barrier much like an offense line around a quarterback. Opposition members stared at the formation in a brief moment of confusion until Konoike began telling them what was really about to take place.

Several opposition members ran towards the chairman’s seat in the hopes of finding some way to stop the vote from commencing. Meanwhile, LDP member Masahisa Sato who was standing near Konoike gestured to Ichita Yamamoto to start the proceedings. Yamamoto announced that deliberation for the security bills was officially closed and voting would commence immediately.

■  One Piece in the hole
All that was left was for Konoike to read aloud the bills and instructions for voting. It was determined the night before that it would take about a minute and a half, during which the LDP offensive line would have to hold back the attacking waves of opposition members to successfully start the vote.

DPJ member Hiroyuki Konishi nearly broke through by climbing over the rear of the LDP phalanx and trying to snatch the paper Konoike was reading from. However, he was easily pushed away by a slow-motion punch from Sato. Primer Minister Abe, who was sitting a few seats away, made a quiet exit once he saw the plan was working.

▼ Sato is the mustachioed gent with the slow hand

Regardless of whether Konishi could have made it to the paper, Konoike had proven himself to be a truly cunning legislator. Prior to entering the chamber he had placed a pamphlet for the kabuki adaptation of the hit manga One Piece in his pocket. In the event any opposition member could penetrate his offensive line, he could swap out the legislation with the One Piece ad and continue to open the vote.

▼ One Piece ad or constitution changing bill? Who can tell…

In the end, Konoike made it through the reading, even though no one actually could hear him over the shouting and chants of “Muko!” (Does not count!). And the security bills were moved on to an Upper House vote of 148 to 90 during a plenary session. And that’s how the future of Japan was changed.

Ultimately, history will be the judge on whether these bills were the right move or not for the country. All I know is if I were the manager of a McDonald’s and this group of politicians were my crew, they’d all have been fired on the spot.

And yet, here they are, continuing to run Japan.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital, Sankei News, Hachima Kiko (Japanese)
Videos & Images: YouTube/TBS News-i, YouTube/nihon1740, VINE/しーなP@Fate/Go始めました
One Piece Flyer Image: Kabuki-bito