Abe's 'stealth' constitution plan raises civil rights fears

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

  • 23

    zichi

    I guess Abe is also thinking about what he can use the country's 70 tons of weapons grade plutonium for?

  • 23

    Yubaru

    These are far flung arguments being tossed by the opposition. There is no question that certain aspects of Japan's constitution needs to be changed to keep up with the times. Other nations do this all the time, it's nothing sacred.

    Think so? This was covered on the late news last night and there are some proposed changes that are a bit scary and it wasn't the opposition that was raising the questions either. Members of Komeito and the LDP were voicing concerns about the proposed limitations on civil rights.

    Everyone was thinking he wanted to change just article 96 to change the need for a 2/3'rds majority in both houses of parliament to a simple majority and then article 9 regarding the JIETAI to a military. But no that isn't it only, there are a number of other proposals that will take Japan back a few years if implemented.

    I don't remember them all in detail, making it a law that everyone has to honor the flag, making families responsible for each other (where this is MAJOR is that there are people on welfare today who would lose their welfare benefits if they had family members that could support them. Think that one through and it's scary when you consider how "far" does family go. This would make it harder for people to get welfare who need it. The news gave an example of an older, 60's something single retired grandma who has only distant relatives, those relatives would have to support her if the law came into effect.

    Also freedom of speech would be hugely curtailed, and that would affect all media as well. As more information comes out, people should be very concerned about these seemingly minor proposals that could easily spin into more government control over the populous.

  • 17

    Kabukilover

    There are things not to worry about and things to worry about.

    The prime minister is not like the American "imperial" president. He has less power and can be out tomorrow. Furthermore, unlike the imperial Japan of old, modern Japan is a subordinate of the US. Abe is already sending up red flags in Washington and, like it or not, if there is any criticism from the US Abe will back down. When several US congressional leaders criticized Abe's stated desire to reverse the Murayama apology he shut up, or at least toned down. It is not in the US interests to see Asia's model democracy go authoritarian or to cause conflicts with neighboring countries.

    On the other hand it can happen. There have been democracies that have gone authoritarian. Iran. Chile. Argentina. The latter two have come back and Iran has sort of come back, no thanks the Islamists. The point is that democracies can and have become authoritarian. Also remember that for most of its time Japan was not democratic. And Abe longs for those times, as does much of the LDP.

    Something else to worry about. The US has wanted Japan to fully militarize for decades and would love to see Article 9 killed off, even if it means the LDP will make the Constitution less democratic in the process. One also has much to fear of an extra-strength military. The Navy and the Army got Japan into trouble back in the 1930s, those the road to that hell was paved back in the Meiji Era.

    All things considered, the sooner we are rid of Abe as prime minister the better.

  • 17

    Disillusioned

    an assault on basic civil rights that could muzzle the media, undermine gender equality and generally open the door to an authoritarian state,

    Ding! Dong! Anyone that has been paying attention to his policies from the beginning of his campaign should have been aware this is what he wants to do. He has stated all along that he wants to 'return Japan to its former glory'. He is a right-wing nut case and should not be the leader of a carwash, better less a country. His viewpoint is narrow and self-centered based on a one-hundred year old mindset that will destroy this country and more than likely start a war within Asia.

  • 13

    Yubaru

    Abe wish....become a dictator!

  • 12

    paulinusa

    "One proposal would ban anyone from “improperly” acquiring or using information about individuals - a clause experts say could limit freedom of speech."

    Sounds like something designed to protect politicians, bureaucrats and corporate big shots who have something to hide.

  • 11

    Michael Craig

    Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was a pre-World War II cabinet minister who was arrested but never tried as a war criminal. Kishi served as premier from 1957-60, when he resigned due to a furor over a U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

    Had Gen. MacArthur sent Kishi to the gallows there and then, this wouldn't be happening!

  • 11

    Ewan Huzarmy

    Do these opponents realize that there is a referendum that must be passed among voting citizens before anything can take place?

    Yeah and I guess he's going to fix that as well.

  • 11

    bam_boo

    Posters who see no problem with the proposed revision don't seem to see the whole picture, or just don't know the facts. With this revision the LDP's clearly aims at suppressing civil liberties.

    It is more then obvious that in the eyes of people like Abe there ought to be the rulers and the ruled and odd enough they believe this is natural as 'Asian societies were working like this for ages'. (btw western societies did work like that for ages as well)

    Of course the LDP is not naive and doesn't aim at abolishing democracy all together, but they aim at controlling democracy and they have 60+ years of expertise with that.

    Appeasing posters like OssanAmerica, nigelboy or Kabukilover don't seem to understand that democracy is not just a political system, but has to embrace the whole of society in order to work properly. A society without truly independent and diverse media environment and especially without a properly implemented education system aiming at independent-minded and critical thinking citizens can only be a democracy on paper.

  • 11

    bam_boo

    If you have first-hand experienced of the Japanese education system you will know the LDP ruled education ministry has managed to completely eradicate education aimed at nurturing independent-minded and critical thinking citizens from its curricula.

    Though at first sight Japanese education might seem comparable to other modern democratic societies it is not. The LDP strategy in regard to educational curricula seems to be how to provide basic education without nurturing critical thinking and independent-minded citizens and the strategy seems to be working quite well. They can't completely prevent an informed minority of Japanese from trying to speak out, but they are incredibly successful at keeping the masses 'in tune'.

    I believe George Orwell would have been stunned by the efficiency and cunningness of the Japanese education system and it's effectiveness at educating well-behaved smooth-working contributors to the Japanese social mega-machine.

    Kudos for this will informed article! Would love to see more of this kind on JT.

  • 10

    Urqinchina

    @tony Ew. I would hardly call China a traditional Asian society. Your communist leaders during the Cultural Revolution managed quite well to transform China. As I too, having lived in China,Japan and Western countries, I find China is going down the path of Americanism, so one shouldn't throw stones. Young Chinese are very similar to western youths. No respect for elders, materialistic etc. So I do agree with your comment about the erosion of core cultural values, but this applies to every country , I have lived In and experienced. My only peeve with people commenting on these websites is hypocrisy. Humans are just human and cultural values are A thin veneer over being human. We all have the same needs and requirements in life. For you to criticise western values Is narrow minded as many English countries have different values and cultural norms. That would be similar to a western person to lump all Asian countries together while criticising their culture. I for one dislike using the word Asian as it smacks of British colonialism . How can Indians , Chinese, Japanese etc be classified under one category? Asian = Western You are using terms which are in my opinion , old fashioned.

  • 9

    GW

    The abe is scary dude for sure, his idea of Japan is not one that will get along well in the world

    Now if Japan had much better faced its history instead of whitewashing & hoping everyone would just forget about WWII then some of these changes wouldnt be as contraversial as they are going to get unfortunately.

    As for democracy Japan has one but at the same time never had one or wanted one imo. Let be honest here, most Japanese DONT want to decide what to do on lots of levels, they WANT to be told/led.

    The media in Japan has been a highly censored, govt & big biz led mess for decades & its set to get even worse, NOT GOOD!

    Japan has plenty of problems it needs to deal with all the crap abe is adding is going to make this a bad place to be in short order, once again I find myself glad I have no children that will have to grow up here, it doesnt look good at all!

  • 8

    sfjp330

    OssanAmerica May. 03, 2013 - 07:36AM JST Every other nation that has gone from such a society to a democratic one has not turned back. These are far flung arguments being tossed by the opposition.

    There is a transition. Although no country has fully instituted democratic socialism, the socialist parties and labor movements of other countries have won many victories for their people. We can learn from the comprehensive welfare state maintained by Sweden, Canada’s national health care system, France’s nationwide childcare program, and Nicaragua’s literacy programs.

  • 6

    Andreas Zachcial

    Nothing wrong with changing the constitution. Some changes are necessary. The question is just how to change it and in which direction. Of course it will become more conservative and nationalistic, because that's what Japan and the Japanese people are. The current constitution was never a japanese one. Face it people, Japan is not a democratic country. Japan is ruled by one party since after the war. Okay, there are elections, but East Germany had elections too.

  • 5

    Yubaru

    Okay, there are elections, but East Germany had elections too.

    And East Germany no longer exists!

  • 5

    Neo_Rio

    The LDP strategy in regard to educational curricula seems to be how to provide basic education without nurturing critical thinking and independent-minded citizens and the strategy seems to be working quite well. They can't completely prevent an informed minority of Japanese from trying to speak out, but they are incredibly successful at keeping the masses 'in tune'.

    Totally agree. They want people smart enough to use the machines, but not clever enough to realize how they're getting done over by Japan's business elites. Or.... to use a metaphor that English teachers will instantly recognize.... good enough at English to be able to use it in business, but not so familiar with it that their contact with foreigners will enables them to escape the working conditions of "Japan Inc.", or become critical of their own society.

    The whole notion that this "ware ware nihonjin" and Japan's special "group oriented" way of doing things only really ever serves the elites, and it's interesting how the Japanese themselves don't seem to notice because of their instilled inferiority complex and their willingness to accept that they are lucky that any company would ever employ them.

    This whole willingness by the Japanese to enslave themselves like this has been worn away over time, but clearly the elites want to reverse the trend.

  • 4

    Disillusioned

    JoeBigs - the enemies of peace will be shaking in their boots.

    I guess that includes you! Do you want to see another war in Asia Mr. Bigs? Really? The solutions to the problems in Asia are political compromise and not military strength.

  • 4

    Jeffrey Rolek

    "However, sweeping changes proposed by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in a draft constitution would strike at the heart of the charter with an assault on basic civil rights that could muzzle the media, undermine gender equality and generally open the door to an authoritarian state, activists and scholars say."

    Sounds a bit like the Japanese government mentioned in "Battle Royal".

  • 4

    zichi

    TonyEW

    like I have said, any change to the Constitution will first require a two thirds vote of the lower and upper houses. There's an upper house election this summer so we'll have to see what the outcome of that will be. Some of the LDP partners like the Komeito Party are opposed to any changes to the constitution.

    the two thirds votes will also need a referendum from the people.

    Since PM Koizumi in 2006, no PM has lasted much longer than one year including Abe's first term. There have been been 7 PM's since 2006 including Abe twice.

    Currently China has 2,285,000 active troops and a reserve of 800,000 troops.

    Japan currently has zero troops but they do have 230,000 Self Defence Force and a reserve of 42,000. They are all civil servants.

    So even, if the constitution was to change, there would be some major obstacles to overcome but finally they would have a problem getting people to sign up to join a military force. They already have problems trying to get people to join the Self Defence Forces.

    Leave it to DC to figure out cost savings, none of my business. I would have thought it was the business of all American citizens?

    With the size of the Chinese military I don't see Japan will ever again be a threat to it.

  • 3

    Ewan Huzarmy

    So, the ring.....er mouthpiece of Japan has spoken. Maybe I was right the first time.

  • 3

    Tiger_In_The_Hermitage

    @Urqinchina & Tony Ew, very interesting points I must say and both I find based on experience as a global citizen a true abstract of reality. What I fear however is the precise human nature, the one from the dark side which dis-respect other human beings for the survival and benefit of the self. The masses are easily manipulated, taking steps along a nationalist front will only result in suffering for all man kind.

  • 3

    bam_boo

    The wikipedia summary mentioned by interuni321 is ok, but I strongly recommend everybody with basic knowledge of written Japanese to have a first hand view of how the LDP want's to change the constitution. There are a number of japanese sites that provide direct side by side comparisons of the current constitutions and LDP proposed revisions.

    The following page is a good place to start with (though it's japanese only) http://c3plamo.slyip.com/blog/archives/2012/12/post_2519.html

    It is stunning how boldfaced the LDP proposals are.

    I would say this kind of proposal is ruthless and only possible in society where the vast majority has never learned to critically analyze texts on social and political issues.

  • 3

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    I'll be putting my money on the worrywarts' side this time. I've seen some of the proposals coming out from the LDP, and the subtle ways they change various articles is indeed troubling.

    Something else to worry about. The US has wanted Japan to fully militarize for decades and would love to see Article 9 killed off, even if it means the LDP will make the Constitution less democratic in the process. One also has much to fear of an extra-strength military. The Navy and the Army got Japan into trouble back in the 1930s, those the road to that hell was paved back in the Meiji Era.

    I have to agree here. America is retrenching and may be willing to tolerate those "additions" if only Japan would crush Article 9.

  • 3

    gas07lisa

    There is nothing wrong in changing constitution or wanting to make them on their own not by US, but Abe's proposal scares me. It could violate civil rights and freedom. There were some concerns about this before election, but many of Japanese were concerned more about economy, recovery from earthquake, and territorial dispute, and proposal for constitution didn't get attention as much as it should get. I hope people realize that this proposal can be very scary.

  • 3

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    If Abe and his conservative party is able to lower the 2/3 majority to a simple majority to set the ground to change the Japanese constitution, I fear that the public, as other posters have mentioned, will succumb to domestic propaganda in the national referendum. Though the possibility of a more war-like Japan seems inconceivable, remember that it is not the general population but those at the top - Abe and his circle - that will dictate policy which will trickle down to the public. It's a slippery slope that I hope the peace-loving Japanese who I know will not succumb to.

    Personally, I'll eat the 2/3rd->1/2th thing in exchange for them being allowed to change only one Article at a time, with a maximum amendment rate of 1 article per year. That would allow more careful examination of the changes by the whole population.

    It would also be interesting to see what Abe "loads" first after changing Article 96.

  • 3

    zichi

    TonyEW

    The best path to long term peace in this region would be for China to become a free democratic country with fair and free elections with a gov't chosen by the people. For China to give up its military expansion and to stop supporting the North Korean rogue nation.

  • 2

    interuni321

    Democracies cant slide back into authoritarianism? Really, so what do you call the effects of "Citizens United" in the US whereby all federal politicians have been legally bribed by corporations? Are you aware of the massive disconnect between what American people say they want the government to do and what the politicians actually vote for? In the UK, rights to freedom of speech and privacy have been crushed by legislation as well in the last few years. People need to actually go and look at the changes proposed by Abe, they consist of the complete constitutional unpicking of the law that has given Japanese people the freedom they take for granted. Japan already has its problems with freedom of the press, but removing modern democratic rights from Japanese would be utterly disastrous except for the small elite who want to rule over whats left. There`s a good summary on the wikipedia page "Constitution of Japan" under the section "Amendments and revisions> Amendment Drafts by the LDP>2012 Draft." I just hope the Japanese people wake up to the danger in time - so many don't ever vote.

  • 2

    Teachmeteachyou

    Japan is a pretty authoritarian place, even with a semblance of democracy here. There are a million and one rules, even if they aren't yet written down. Not only that, but it's basically been run as a Liberal Democratic one-party state for decades. There are those who say the American, democratic influence saved Japan from themselves. This may be going a bit far, but I feel that Japan and the people here more see democracy as something that produces benefits than have a strong liberal set of beliefs. Free media and especially a media that asks difficult questions are very small scale affairs.

    What isn't so well known here in the kind of circles that embrace this, is that if Japan militarises and becomes more nationalistic, it will only bring trouble. I hope a liberal form of patriotism can challenge any moves to regress to Japan's dark past, in other words that Japan can progress while still being democratic and respecting individual liberties. Even if they were learned from the Western countries, such values are universal and I'd rather Japan spread them to China then go backwards.

  • 2

    zichi

    TonyEW

    any change to the constitution will also require a referendum from the people. I think your country, America would like to see a change to Article 9 of the constitution so that it can reduce the number of troops and the military costs.

    You do realize that WW11 ended in 1946, and Japanese has been at peace since. How many countries has Japan invaded since 1950 and say your own country America?

  • 2

    ubikwit

    There's nothing wrong with the Constitution.

    These troglodytes don't have the cranial capacity to actually accomplish something within the light of day in the modern world of democracy, so they want to throw things back to the good old days of FEUDALISM!

  • 1

    Urqinchina

    @tony Ew Also ,I do agree that in the future, The USA will shift closer to China than Japan. ( or maybe that China will shift closer to the USA). There are many similarities. Particularly the upward mobility of people is encouraged and the spirit of entrepreneur ism. The government may be communist but underneath capitalism is thriving. Maybe China is trying to hasten this shift by testing constantly the bonds between Japan and The USA. Also to change perceptions of China through out the world.

  • 1

    AlexNoaburg

    If Abe and his conservative party is able to lower the 2/3 majority to a simple majority to set the ground to change the Japanese constitution, I fear that the public, as other posters have mentioned, will succumb to domestic propaganda in the national referendum. Though the possibility of a more war-like Japan seems inconceivable, remember that it is not the general population but those at the top - Abe and his circle - that will dictate policy which will trickle down to the public. It's a slippery slope that I hope the peace-loving Japanese who I know will not succumb to.

  • 1

    markandmiho2

    The changes that Prime Minister Abe appears to be seeking are dramatic to the extent that these changes represent a form of political philosophy that appears to go against the rising tide of Western Style Democracy. Yet, I feel that it is important to note that Prime Minister Abe's populairty appears to be more focused on the short-term success of his economic policies, than on his political philosophy per se. Therefore, perhaps, as one could surmise, the longer that Prime Minister Abe's economic policiies are successful, the more encouraged Prime Minister Abe and his LDP supporters will be to aggressively advocate for a more politically conservative Constitution. The values currently embodied in the Japanese Constitution are Western oriented, and in particular, American Democracy oriented. The Prime Minister appears to be accepting of the success of Western Capitalism, and simultaneously rejecting of American Democracy. Indeed, it would appear that the Prime Minister would like to retain the benefits of American Democracy with respect to Western Capitalism as an economic system, while revising the focus of the Japanese Constitution back to the Pre-World War II philosophy. This Pre-World War II philosophy encouraged a more centralized, autocratic, police state where individual civil liberties are significantly curtailed. One could argue that the whole notion of individual civil liberties is a Western concept that is inherently foreign to the more Traditional Asian focus on sacrificing individual civil liberties on behalf of the entire country-group over individual wellbeing. The United States and the other Western Democracies cannot dictate to the Japanese the type of Constitution that Japan will have moving forward through the 21st Century. The United States can strongly influence the Abe Government in terms of the presence of American Forces on Japanese soil, and to some limited extent, can influence the "benefits" derived from a continued U.S. military presence. Yet, we should not reduce the vision to one where America's military influence is the key link to whether or not the Abe Government would be wise to revise the Japanese Constitution, since the American military influence, however important, is but one of many issues that are intricately linked to the discussion over the revision of the Post-World War II American Influenced Japanese Constitution. Finally, what makes a Constitution strong is that despite the changes in political parties, and despite the cyclical fluctuations of the business cylce, the Constitution embodies the"Spirit" of the People-The Constitution at its very best, embodies the Spirit of a Nation. Therefore, perhaps the larger question to ask is this: "What is the Spirit of the Nation of Japan"? Thank you very much.

    Respectfully Submitted: Mark Kazuo Bradley Honolulu, Hawaii.

  • 1

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    @markandmiho2 I have a less romantic, more "utilitarian" view of the Constitution that considers it as a "Rights and Duties of the Government" document from the Sovereign People.

    As such, as a rule restrictions have no place in such a Constituion. Even if the Japanese "spirit" is more centralized and authoritarian than the liberal American-based constitution, it is not a problem since if the Japanese spirit is really such it can be adequately sustained using social mores, or if necessary a law under the control of the Legislative. The need to place a restriction in the Constitution in itself implies the Japanese spirit as a whole (or at least part of it) is less centralized than certain people would like, and either these Certain People are denying it or acknowledge it but want it dead by excision.

  • 1

    Sentiments

    Nukes is always bad. Most people would probably agree. The only thing that up to now has motivated nations to make nukes is somebody elses military strength. I have no confirmation of any actual construction sights in Japan but of course Japan has the capability to manufacture nukes fast and easy. Would it not be a natural, however sad, step to take for Japan if nuke-states like China and North Korea keeps pushing?

  • 1

    toshiko

    Yubaru-san I read Japanese Constitution on Wikipedia's both English and Japanese version. I found English version detailed full of history of constitution change. Also, It has details of Abe's plan to change constitution. Domo Arigatou Yuri-san.

  • 0

    jerseyboy

    The draft deletes a guarantee of basic human rights and prescribes duties, such as submission to an undefined “public interest and public order.” The military would be empowered to maintain that “public order.”

    Wow. Scary, but, unfortunately not all that surprising. Japan really has screwed up trying to be a democracy -- especially the last 20 years or so -- so it is only natural some folks would want to go back to the system that they believe made Japan "great". Imagine this concept of "public interest and public order' would make it even more challenging for foreigners. Glad I'm not there to worry about such nonsense anymore.

  • 0

    Redcliff

    @ TigerIn The- Hermitage

    Your comment - the masses are easily manipulated - rings true throughout all ages. From ancient time to current masses are being manipulated by individual for self benefit whether they are politicians, nationalist or unionist. It serves to expose the true nature of those who only seek to achieve their agenda.

  • 0

    7solace9

    If the leaders and people of Japan collectively want change, then easing revision procedures would be unnecessary.

  • 0

    JoeBigs

    I find it very funny that the only people that agree with the PRC are conspiracy theorist and, well, the completely insane.

    Too funny.....

  • 0

    OssanAmerica

    Tony EwMay. 03, 2013 - 07:41AM JST I told you so. Japan is about to become more like China and China is about to become more democratic

    There is absolutely no evidence of China becoming "more democratic" now or in the last 15 years.

  • 0

    maglev101

    Now why does China need this racist attitude against Japan?

    don't wanna be too technical, but it can't be racism, since both the chinese and japanese belong to the same Mongoloid race. it's more like nationalism, than racism.

  • 0

    Open Minded

    Japan is currently in the 19th century socially. Abe wants to bring it back to the 16th one. Scary and speechless!

    Time to wake up guys!

  • 0

    ryomasakamoto21

    "with great power comes great responsibility". It is ridiculous that so much power should be entrusted to a leader who is not directly elected by the people. In other words, should anybody be given so much authority if he is not accountable to the people. What if he passed a law like the Edo period Shogun (who was not elected but have absolute legislative power) that mandated all people to kowtow to the imperial dog when it was taken out for a walk? The penalty for disobeying was death. What then can the people do, because the Prime Minister is not directly elected, and therefore cannot be kicked out by the people?

  • 0

    toshiko

    Does Abe have enough time to check content of all constitution? He is in many foreign countries. He was talking about Article 9 before he left Japan. But too busy in talking something else in foreign countries.

  • 0

    toshiko

    I meant Yubaru-san. INever too old to learn things from Yubaru-san.

  • 0

    Zooots

    One key point that is being overlooked is that the changes Abe is proposing effectively abolish the constitution--a constitution drafted by western powers, but that is arguably better than that of many other western nations. As a body of fundamental principles under which a society is governed, modern constitutions require a certain amount of supremacy over statutory law so that it is not easily circumvented. Almost all constitutions require a supermajority to make amendments, for replacing the requirement with a simple majority effectively reduces the constitution to statutory law. The current ultranationalist faction that is ruling the LDP, as well as Hashimoto, is also proposing the removal of the whole upper house and well as a number of representatives from the lower house. They are proposing exactly the same political environment that was in place in Japan during the military dictatorship, and it is no surprise that many people in Japan are concerned that Japan currently looks too much like it did before the war.

    How conferenced should people be? First, Japan is a nation of individuals with highly contrasting political views just like anywhere else, despite the extent to which ultra-right wing Japanese argue that Japan has a uniquely, deep-rooted "homogenous, group-oriented culture". Japan's problems are purely socio-political and are based upon problems that started during Japan's pre-war history and weren't effectively dealt with afterwards.

    Many worldly and informed Japanese will quickly argue that Japan isn't a democracy. It doesn't help that the US propped up the same ultra-nationalists during the Cold War that the US had originally defeated, in the name of fighting communism. But since then, the LDP has maintained almost uninterrupted rule with as little as 20 percent of the total vote in many districts, in most elections for roughly 50 years. Japan doesn't require party primary elections, or runoff elections if one party received less than a majority of the vote. In the last election, the current "Mori" faction of the LDP, due to unusual election rules, won the party presidency despite losing its party chapter votes. The LDP won the last election in a landslide, with one of the lowest turnouts in modern history, despite having only a 25 percent support rate and a popular vote of only 43 percent. There is no effective opposition party anymore. In the last election, the district that I live in saw a choice of two extreme right wing candidates or a communist candidate (which of course had little chance of winning).

    To make matters worse, Japan has a weak system of checks and balances. The Supreme Court's authority is considerably weak compared to other countries, and due to an unusual law that allows a 2/3 majority in the lower house to override the upper house, the upper house has already been effectively removed from power (with exception to a vote on constitutional amendments) in the last election. Even if some new opposition party wins the next upper house election, it won't prevent the LDP from passing any statutory law it wants, unopposed, at it's own leisure. The Supreme Court has already ruled, repeatedly, that the Japan's elections were unconstitutional due to a voter disparity that favors some districts (usually LDP dominated) by an unheard of disparity of as much as 5 to 1. Some people were hoping the Supreme Court would rule the last election void, but so far, only Hiroshima Prefecture would rule it's election invalid.

    The Japanese media is highly monopolized, and due to the fact that Japan has atrocious foreign language skills, the general population has little access to alternative viewpoints. Abe's controversial appearance at an "uyoku dantai" (the equivalent of "skin heads") rally in Tokyo, barely got any press coverage. A man in his 90s, who saw the evils of the military dictatorship, cashed in his life savings to run against the LDP in Tokyo, but apparently received no media publicity in Japan despite quite a bit of international media attention. Many academics in Japan are aware of Abe's grandfather's disturbing history, though disturbing amount of the general population remains grossly unaware. Abe has been a vocal fan of his grandfather and even published a book about him. He is the grandson of Nobosuke Kishi, a former "class A" war criminal who administered Manchuria during Japan's occupation, made an enormous personal fortune with one of the biggest money laundering operations in history, and oversaw the operations of highly controversial Unit 731, which conducted biological experiments on live human subjects. Kishi escaped the death penalty and was pardoned by the US government in exchange for biological weapons knowledge (which later turned out to be useless information). Kishi, along with other prominent politicians with direct ties to the former dictatorship, formed what would later become the current ultra-nationalist "Mori" faction of the LDP.

    The military coup that took over Japan before the war, was effectively a backlash against an increasingly open population and a period of political dissent. What separates Japan from other nations with similar histories, is that there was no effective social revolution against the former dictatorship after the war. Unlike Germany, many war criminals weren't effectively prosecuted, but returned to prominent positions in society. Unlike Germany, which banned the Nazi Party and its symbology, "uyoku dantai", the political equivalent of the ultra-nationalist groups that assassinated politicians before the war, still terrorize the population with seeming impunity, and would even assassinate the president of the Socialist Party on live television during the 1950s. The seeds for change actually were there after the war; an effective opposition was in place, but the only organized opposition happened to be the Japanese Socialist Party, which was vastly curtailed during a period of US sponsored "red hunting" that saw far more prominent individuals removed from government than during the McCarthy years in the US. Unfortunately, there is a tremendously inadequate education about Japan's military past and a significant portion of Japan's population grew up with military brainwashing rather than education.

    In recent years, a number of other nations have seen a disturbing rise and later defeat of ultra-nationalist parties, but none of them took 80 percent of the vote. I can't see much of any way out of Japan's situation, without massive public protest, but so far that looks unlikely. People only talk about leaving the country and many people (there is an enormous population of Japanese living overseas) already have and aren't interested in returning. If anybody takes foreign citizenship, Japan's unusual laws requires them to give up their Japanese citizenship. Today, there doesn't appear to be any organized dissent. Only 5 percent of the population sees a brighter future for Japan in the latest survey, and effectively too many people have already thrown in the towel. Japan has serious socio-political ills that don't exist in the public psyche due to a surprising amount of naiveté, denial and intentional cover up. Be worried. Be very worried.

  • -1

    habibu

    yes it good thinking but really going to do for or just buying tools for supports the american economy . because they are mainly war tool seller

  • -1

    Sentiments

    Im all for a critical discussions about the topic of constitutional change but Im also severly reluctant to many of the conspiracy agendas (or propaganda) at work in the discussion board. There is a difference between analysis and conspiracy. I guess there could be a point to talk about constitutional change and the effect on the Japanese society over time (a "threat" to the other nations). However the assumption that is needed for this possible logic to work is that the japanese people are exactly the same as they were about 80-100 years ago. Now since these factual persons are almost all dead, that seems slightly impossible, doesnt it? Another possibility is that the logic requires an assumption based on plain racism, like statements that the japanese people has always been like that and still are, bla-bla. These kind of arguments has been used many times in history by fascists, nazis, imperialist etcetera. Somehow the latter argumentative basis seem more likely. As far as I have seen these statements seem to stem from China, not Japan. Now why does China need this racist attitude against Japan?

  • -1

    Sentiments

    To me it seems likely that Japan as a nation of different people has been in a national process/progress for sometime and they will continue to move on. Abe may like to change some things to values and sentiments from a long gone past. However this will not be possible, if anything has happened during the last 70 years. At best Abes changes become surface change, paper on the bookshelf. The conditions for implementing such changes are no longer. The best way to dismiss Abes ideas is to leave the old shame from ww II and the constant harassment from China and South Korea. This would most likely speed up the progress of democratic engagement in Japan.

  • -1

    Kabukilover

    bam_boo, how in hell can I be an "appeasing poster" when I want Abe out of power and see the LDP as authoritarian? I have also stated that given Japan's history the end of democracy can happen here.

  • -1

    kiyoshiMukai

    People always complain for something, but its time for change and we need it. Even making Tomahawks will give jobs to Japanese, investing in weapons, maybe we could use them for killing whales.

  • -1

    Sentiments

    Agree with you Ossan. However I chose it in lack over better words. The intention was not to use different races in a strict and classical biological sense, but primarily a social one. As I understand the concept of nationalism, it is ideological and cover denominations of people with nationalistic sentiments. This implies that they may change attitude tomorrow. When someone at the forum defines a whole people as being and behaving in a certain way over time it comes close to the discourse of genes or dna, hence the word race denominating a sub-people. So I guess the question is, can you argue that someone elses argument is racist if they use it as such even though according to Websters they are classified as the same race? But you are right, I may have had some idea of rethorics in mind as well ;-)

  • -1

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    @All Let's not be spamming the Bad button just because it is Tony Ew writing. His last post makes perfect sense.

  • -2

    Dukeleto

    "Okay, there are elections, but East Germany had elections too.

    And East Germany no longer exists!"

    It does actually, just not in name.

    • Moderator

      Back on topic please.

  • -2

    JoeBigs

    I for one can't wait to see Article 9 go the way of the horse and buggy, Japan needs to be able to truely defend it's interest from the PRC and it's servant nation.

    The playing field will soon be even and the enemies of peace will be shaking in their boots.

  • -2

    Redcliff

    In my earlier comment I made in another article that if Abe controls both houses it will give him practically a free hand in implementing his vision and mandate. That is conservative nationalism. Just as Professor Bruce Ackerman has said - In two years later we move to redefine a new Japan as an Authoritarian Nationalist order. If this does occurred there may be changes in the air for US as well as the Asian neighbours.

  • -2

    OssanAmerica

    maglev101May. 03, 2013 - 11:34PM JST "Now why does China need this racist attitude against Japan?" don't wanna be too technical, but it can't be racism, since both the chinese and japanese belong to the same >Mongoloid race. it's more like nationalism, than racism.

    The term no longer specifically refers to the anthropological definition, but now covers any kind of ethnic, religious, national differences.

  • -2

    sfjp330

    The current course of Japanese goverment is a continuing problem. Japan lost the art of diplomacy. Abe and Japanese goverment are telling the people that everthing will be just fine. In a democracy country like Japan, it's the duty of the people is to find out the truth and then act. The issue in Japan is why more people are exposed to continuing abuses of power from their own goverment and loss of freedom, and they are not doing nothing about it. Now they need to take responsability and change course.

  • -3

    OssanAmerica

    sfjp330May. 03, 2013 - 08:25AM JST "OssanAmerica May. 03, 2013 - 07:36AM JST Every other nation that has gone from such a society to a democratic one has not turned back. These are far flung arguments being tossed by the opposition. There is a transition. Although no country has fully instituted democratic socialism, the socialist parties and labor >movements of other countries have won many victories for their people. We can learn from the comprehensive welfare >state maintained by Sweden, Canada’s national health care system, France’s nationwide childcare program, and >Nicaragua’s literacy programs.

    Yes, but the article suggests no one is talking about such transitions. Instead they are crying the knee-jerk authoritarianism argument.

  • -4

    hkitagawa

    Just change it soon to prevent neighbors to take the land.

  • -5

    Tony Ew

    I wish Japan stay prosperous and demographically balanced in the future, if not she may become a 'starving beast' that was the reason she have to venture out to invade China and S E Asia in WWI & WWII. This makes sense as one can also use Genghis Khan Mongol invasion of China as similar example. A poor desperate nomadic country looking for better land to lift up her people from misery.

    However as I said, with US Security Treaty, I don't see why the need for Japan to remilitarise. I am sure it will backfire badly for Japan, due to miscalculation esp from N Korea, in the future once Japan fall further economically ie when Abenomics start to fall apart.

  • -5

    Tony Ew

    @bam_boo

    I agree with your posts completely! This is Japan's democracy, CONTROLLED democracy I might add, so I won't talk much since I am outsider. However revising the Constitution to restrict individual freedom or force them to do something is going back in time. There is no turning back. Democracy simply means having to tolerate all sorts of coarseness like we see in the West esp US. Freedom of expression can be extreme, go spit on your country's flag and nobody say it is against the law. If the education system don't encourage 'free spirits', the outcome are just adults who are followers, sheeple, people who don't learn to THINK.

    "Pubic interest & public order" written into the Constitution can be interpreted dictatorially by the ruling party, so very dangerous. Even judges are inclined to agree when such vague phrase is incorporated into the Constitution, giving judges almost no leeway to disagree with the government.

    Democracy is poisonous to old fashion societies, hard to accept certain extremes. We just have to manage it as best as we can without codifying into law what we cannot do or is forced to do as a free citizen in truly democratic societies, otherwise China will be laughing at so called democratic societies as just another replica of her system with different labels!

  • -6

    Tony Ew

    @zichi

    You do realize that WW11 ended in 1946, and Japanese has been at peace since. How many countries has Japan invaded since 1950 and say your own country America?

    NO CHANGE to the Constitution! Since everything works so fine, Japan at peace with her neighbors with US protection, WHY the need to change and remilitarise? Under current status, Japan will CONTINUE to have peace for another 60 + years and another batch of 60+ years ad infinitum. Please explain the need to change.

    Leave it to DC to figure out cost savings, none of my business.

  • -7

    Tony Ew

    @zichi

    When will you 'get it'? We are talking about the Constitution, not China!

    I Don't Care about the nuts and bolts, the processes. I only care about the Finished Product which I prefer to be the Current Status Quo ie NO Change.

    The fact that remilitarising is a big part of the change agenda is what concern me. It should NOT even be discussed.

    That's all for today. Bye!

  • -7

    Tony Ew

    @zichiMay. 06, 2013 - 02:39AM JST

    TonyEW

    The best path to long term peace in this region would be for China to become a free democratic country with fair and free elections with a gov't chosen by the people. For China to give up its military expansion and to stop supporting the North Korean rogue nation.

    We all know that zichi! My previous comment to you was deleted, off topic, but since you insist to drag China in, I want to keep things in perspective. US takes about 90 years to abolish slavery, about 190 years to introduce the Voting Rights Act since Independence. Doesn't all those years of human rights abuses count? Compare with PRC only about 60+ years of evolution, why are you beating China so mercilessly? China is currently paying a very high price in lack of freedom and pollution, please keep the flow of events in perspective. Democracy in China will come faster the less foreign agents trying to destablize her while she furiously try to increase the standard of living for the masses. Thank you.

    Zichi, no more China okay? Just the Constitution revision in Japan regarding the military aspect.

    • Moderator

      Tony Ew and zichi, you are just going around in circles. Please do not address each other any further on this thread.

  • -8

    nigelboy

    *Yeah and I guess he's going to fix that as well.

    No. The proposed revision of article 96 still calls for national referendum among citizens.

  • -8

    Tony Ew

    @OssanAmericaMay. 03, 2013 - 10:35PM JST

    Tony EwMay. 03, 2013 - 07:41AM JST I told you so. Japan is about to become more like China and China is about to become more democratic
    

    There is absolutely no evidence of China becoming "more democratic" now or in the last 15 years.

    Don't worry about democracy in China. Worry about Abe changing the Constitution to remilitarise. Know what that means? Now it all become crystal clear. The Six Party Talk to persuade N Korea apparently fail and the fear from US/China/Russia etc is MORE about Japan become nuclear power than N Korea! Japan have nuclear shield from US under Security Treaty so why the need to remilitarise?

    This means hundreds of plutonium nuclear bombs in Japan! Japanese better be worried once Abe succeed in changing the Constitution. WIth huge stockpile of plutonium, Japan can easily make hundreds of nuclear weapons, tactical, medium range ballistic missiles (Epsilon Launch Vehicles delivery) , nuke tipped sub missiles, so this will completely upset the military balance in Asia. An itchy neighbor like N Korea may make Japan another Fukushima given such a dense population if she succeed in targeting the nuke facility.

    Not that I worry about danger to China/ Korea etc when Japan is rich and stable. I worry about some nut nationalist running Japan in the future when the demographics of Japan ages, Japan cannot compete and some new govt blame the world for all her ills and start to use her nuclear capabilities to blackmail other countries. Never say never given Japanese history! Oh, my wild imagination, I can almost hear somebody thinking.

  • -8

    Tony Ew

    It's a Slow Burn. I am only interested in the remilitarising aspect. This will make the region Unstable and knowing Japanese past military behaviors you need to realise a remilitarised Japan can easily lead to war. This time I think miscalculation may be more of a reason eg N Korea due to lightning fast computerized warfare, there is very little room for error.

    For illustration the eight Japanese fighter jets to ward off one small Chinese propeller incident shows the extreme behavior of Japan's military. Another country probably send just one or two plane, acting proportionally so nobody gets too upset. This is a vivid reminder of how events can quickly get out of hand when Japan feel emboldened due to being nuclear armed. Japan must not get nukes so she cannot act too aggressively.

    A Japan that is not aggressively armed is a prerequisite for peace in the region!

    Now why it affect someone living in America? You guess it, war brings one nation into another and another, the whole region gets entangled due to security agreements and other acts of self national interest. That means any Constitutional change in Japan will eventually affects me and others in America and elsewhere. Either you are deliberately naive or ....

    Show me more details about US wanting, edging Japan to change the Article 9 part of the Constitution.

  • -13

    nikku510

    Abe, you da man!

  • -15

    Tony Ew

    I told you so. Japan is about to become more like China and China is about to become more democratic. No wonder I suspect US will be closer to China and move away from 'old Japan' Let Japan ' Go Back To The Future'

    I really suspect at the core is Japanese elite who feels the erosion of Japanese traditional cultural values. The Western style is too obscene, too rough and crude for many, NO SENSE OF SHAME so in this sense I can sympathize with Abe since I see both Eastern and Western civilization clearly, having much exposure to both lifestyles.

  • -18

    nigelboy

    Yawn. Do these opponents realize that there is a referendum that must be passed among voting citizens before anything can take place? Am I to believe that based on the many scheduled conferences regarding this issue all across Japan today that these LDP proposed amendments can be sneaked in?

    Isozaki is correct. There is nothing taboo about changing the constitution.

  • -26

    OssanAmerica

    Really nonsense. After 70 years of a democratic society there's no way that Japan could return to an authoritarian society. Every other nation that has gone from such a society to a democratic one has not turned back. These are far flung arguments being tossed by the opposition. There is no question that certain aspects of Japan's constitution needs to be changed to keep up with the times. Other nations do this all the time, it's nothing sacred.

Login to leave a comment

OR
  • Program Assistant

    Program Assistant
    Temple University, Japan Campus - テンプル大学ジャパンキャンパス、Tokyo
    Salary: Commensurate with experience plus transportation from/to TUJ
  • Recruitment / HR Generalist

    Recruitment / HR Generalist
    Temple University, Japan Campus - テンプル大学ジャパンキャンパス、Tokyo
    Salary: Commensurate with experience plus transportation from/to TUJ
  • IELTSインストラクター

    IELTSインストラクター
    Berkeley House Language Center / バークレーハウス語学センター、Tokyo
    Salary: ¥3,500 / Hour Negotiable
  • Bilingual Administrative Staff

    Bilingual Administrative Staff
    Star Kids International Preschool、Tokyo
    Salary: Salary negotiable Depending on experience
  • TOEICインストラクター

    TOEICインストラクター
    Berkeley House Language Center / バークレーハウス語学センター、Tokyo
    Salary: ¥3,000 / Hour Negotiable

More in Politics

View all

View all