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Brawl breaks out in Japanese Parliament during debate over pacifism

Throwing punches may not be the best way to express your opposition in parliament. That didn't stop Japanese lawmakers from trying out a few of their moves in the upper house on Thursday night, when a highly controversial bill aiming to loosen World War II-era restrictions on the military moved to the floor for a vote.

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Scenes reminiscent of a rugby match played out Thursday in the committee chamber where lawmakers have been debating the bills for weeks. Opposition politicians tried to prevent voting by piling on top of the committee chairman and wrestling away his microphone. Governing party lawmakers pulled them away and formed a protective scrum around the chairman to allow him to call the vote. The scenes were broadcast live on television by the national broadcaster, NHK. [The New York Times]

The 11 bills were ultimately passed and will go to another vote by the full upper house next. If approved, they will allow for Japan to use its military in defense of allies even if there is no immediate threat to Japan. The change is opposed by the majority of the public, The New York Times reports, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strong push to make Japan more militarily independent and more involved in foreign affairs.