TOKYO, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Japan clashed as the opposition tried to block the passage of a controversial security bill in parliament on Thursday.
The scuffle began when opposition lawmakers tried to physically block the vote in a legislative committee. Some members tried to grab the bill and microphone from Yoshitada Konoike, chairman of the upper house special committee on security, the BBC reported.
The bill is unpopular in Japan and has led to widespread protests around the country. Thousands of protesters rallied outside the parliament in Tokyo as debates continued inside the building on Thursday.
Despite the verbal fights and filibuster, the bill was approved by committee and is headed to the upper house of parliament on Friday for final approval, where it is expected to be passed into law because the ruling party's majority would back the bill.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promoted the legislation that could revise Japan's pacifist Constitution and allow Japan's military to serve in overseas missions whenever it or a close ally is attacked. Opponents of the bill, however, say that the law would lead to unwanted Japanese involvement in U.S.-led conflicts around the world.
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Chinese state media have widely condemned Japan's remilitarization efforts. According to Beijing's state news agency Xinhua, 70 percent of Japanese oppose the security legislation due to pass on Friday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Sept. 1 the Japanese government must lend an ear to the voices of dissent in the country and "learn a lesson from history."
Japan and China also are dealing with an ongoing maritime dispute in the East China Sea. The Asahi Shimbun reported Japan has filed a protest with China over its continued development of gas fields in the disputed waters.