politics

Japan pushing on with reform of constitution despite fiery suicide bid

42 Comments
By Kyoko Hasegawa

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Whether one agrees with the government's decision or not it is absolutely absurd to think that any government would change its agenda because of the desperate act of one individual...So the fact that a story and a headline have been squeezed out of it is equally absurd.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

This is now the age where governments(supposedly democrocies) no longer fear the voters. And ironically, it seems a lot of people of those countries don't care about their rights, or fail to show any participation that support their rights. Save for this man who is in this picture.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Suga defended the plan, saying: “The government should protect people’s lives and property as well as the country’s safety ...and if there is a defect in the current legal framework, we will address it.”

He still has gall to say this crap. Work on the internal issue before even thinking about the islands. Realistically, the only thing China can do is just snooping around Senkaku Island. They know they don't have any powerful allies to maintain any aggressive stance. All LDP and their followers have been doing is exaggerating how dangerous China is. Can you give me an answer how many has Chinese military killed Japanese defense force and not their own civilians?

7 ( +12 / -5 )

However, the issue received scant coverage in the mainstream media, with none of the national newspapers using a picture in their short reports.

seriously, the japanese press is such a lap dog of the government. a loony cuts the hands of two AKB girls and there's nonstop coverage of it. a man self-immolates and not even a mention of it this morning on any of the news shows. shocking and pathetic.

21 ( +23 / -4 )

He's trying to stop the death of millions.

14 ( +21 / -8 )

Its going to be pretty hard for Japan's 'lap dog press' to supress what happened. In Shinjuku on a bridge in arguably one of the most densely peopled areas of the country... Not to mention the foreign media which has picked up on this internationally. At some point it is quite likely that international press and Japanese press are going to have serious conflicts of interests vis-a-vis honest reporting in Japan as the government becomes increasingly hegemonic.

7 ( +11 / -5 )

So anyone surprised that the government doesn't care?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Why is this (big) news downplayed? An uncomfortable truth? A man tries to burn himself to death in the middle of Tokyo, on of the biggest cities in the world and the soncalled press are stonewalling on the issue. Anyone who can't see which direction Japan is headed had better wake up.

A free press in a democratic society does not treat this kind of news (he had a message, after all) like it was nothing. In Japan, they do. Had this happened in any other developed nation, the press would have been all over it, tryingbto find out who this guy was, what his motives were and to do their best to inform the public.

13 ( +21 / -8 )

I am worried about Japan's re-militarization in the event the US is no longer in charge. I do not trust those right-wing nutters at all

2 ( +9 / -8 )

Knox HarringtonJun. 30, 2014 - 04:50PM JST

Why is this (big) news downplayed?

Who said it is down played? It is a big news in Japanese press.

Sankei http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/140629/dst14062916150005-n1.htm

Asahi http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASG6Y55DBG6YUTIL01T.html

Mainichi http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20140630k0000m040069000c.html

I am rather concerned about the misinformation of English media.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

@Knox Frankly, I'm not that interested. He's a nut defending an indefensible position (in essence, Japan's attitude to collective self-defence is moral cowardice and a lack of obligation. For a country so indoctrinated with "giri", Japan sure doesn't feel much towards its only real ally.

-21 ( +3 / -22 )

gaijin6000 " ironically, it seems a lot of people of those countries don't care about their rights, or fail to show any participation that support their rights. Save for this man who is in this picture."

Insulting and inaccurate. There have been numerous protest rallies and marches against the revision of the peace constitution. To suggest that only the self-immolator has cared or done anything is either extremely ignorant or just plain malicious.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Japan pushing on with reform of constitution

Such a decision should necessitate that more than 50% of the voting population agree. This doesn't mean more than 50% of the small number who bothered to get off their arse at the last election, 50% of eligible voters... period. This isn't a small change, the potential for disaster is quite clear.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Such a decision should necessitate that more than 50% of the voting population agree. This doesn't mean more than 50% of the small number who bothered to get off their arse at the last election, 50% of eligible voters... period. This isn't a small change, the potential for disaster is quite clear.

I believe it requires a 2/3 vote, though that is more likely 2/3 of people who voted, not 2/3 of the population. I doubt it would be 2/3 of the population, as it would be hard to get 2/3 of the population to even vote, much less have 2/3 of them vote in favor of something.

4 ( +4 / -1 )

CH3CH0, Can you find where NHK is covering it?

8 ( +7 / -0 )

I am rather concerned about the misinformation of English media.

I'm more concerned about NHK's deafening silence on the matter.

At least the Nikkei has the cojones to check the nation's pulse on the issue, and look at the results:

A poll published on Monday found that half of voters oppose Abe's reinterpretation of the pacifist constitution, which has prevented Japanese forces from fighting overseas since the end of the second world war. The Nikkei business newspaper found that 50% of voters were against overturning the ban on collective self-defence, while 34% supported the change.

The results were released a day after a man set himself alight in central Tokyo, apparently in protest at the policy. The unidentified man, who remains in a serious condition in hospital, had criticised Abe's proposals before attempting to kill himself in front of horrified onlookers.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/30/japan-pm-overturn-pacifist-defence-policy-shinzo-abe

3 ( +6 / -3 )

CH3CHO,

Those are BS, minor articles (probably hidden somewhere obscure in the paper version, if printed at all), whereas this is BIG news. People don't just burn themselves to death, you know (even though this guy supposedly lived). This is obviously downplayed, to try to make it go away. The weird and strange thing is, that in Japan, that stuff seems to work well. I fear for the future of this nation with its docile, and apathetic citizens. Honto.

Kazuaki,

You're not interested?! You should be...

2 ( +9 / -6 )

Abe says growing regional tensions—including China’s increasingly assertive stance in various territorial disputes—and the erratic actions of North Korea mean Japan must be better prepared to defend itself.

This is a false statement! Japan can defend itself readily under the current rule of the constitution. The only thing Japan can't do is attack without provocation.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It's sad to watch the government turn this once great nation into the nation it claims it needs to defend itself against most -- China. Look at all the recent laws (or those going into play): reviewing past apologize in order to 'legitimize' them. Changing article 9 "for defense". The Secret Bill, which limits what can be said by the media and the public against the government (hence you hear next to nothing about this guy in the J-Media), which is censorship. Blatantly ignoring the wishes of the majority of voters (making democracy a farce), etc. etc. The flags may still be different, but this isn't to defend against China, it's to become more like it.

-5 ( +7 / -11 )

I've always thought of Japan as the world's most successful communist country. The authorities have managed to have a firm control of the press and most of the people.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Unfortunately for the conspiracy theorists, the lack of press coverage has nothing to do with government pressure. The TV companies actually follow guidelines from the World Health Organization regarding the reporting of suicides. As Japan is considered a high-risk country for suicides, the WHO recommends that the reporting of such incidents is limited and non-sensationalist. Psychologists believe that it prevents copycat events from occurring.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The self immolation was a stupid stunt that obviously would have had no effect on politics. Today Americans would die to defend Japanese lives but Japanese would not die to defend American Lives. Many prior J-PMs have lived with this embarrassing reality and Abe is the first PM to actual make an effort to correct it. Japanese who are against it are either ignorant of the changes in Japan's international environment, or they are carrying on the post-WWII guilt and shame syndrome that lead to decades of Heiwa Boke. The US, Australia, and many Asian nations support Japan. China objects for obvious reasons.

VincehwrJun. 30, 2014 - 04:12PM JST All LDP and their followers have been doing is exaggerating how dangerous China is. Can you give me an answer >how many has Chinese military killed Japanese defense force and not their own civilians?

The purpose of a military is not to create a war but to prevent a war. The larger the military, the more capable it is, the less likely that another country may start a war. China's threat to the region is no exaggeration, their military expansion has been watched by the west for over a decade, they have openly stated their aims of taking control of the entire South and East China Seas, and are the only country that has openly talked of "preparing for war". What Japan is doing now is to ensure that the final question you asked need never be answered.

AlexNoaburgJun. 30, 2014 - 04:53PM JST I am worried about Japan's re-militarization in the event the US is no longer in charge. I do not trust those right-wing >nutters at all

The right-wing nutters in Japan are an insignificant bunch and not in any position of power. In contrast the right wing nutters in the Chinese Dictatorship are in power and control the military. You're worried about the wrong thing.

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

What Japan is doing now is to ensure that the final question you asked need never be answered.

This is non sense, Japan has the second most sophisticated and powerful navy on Earth. Japan didn't wait for the change of the Constitution to build a persuasive force that would guaranty its security. That is, Japan doesn't need to change the constitution to protect itself, it can already by a large mean.

The TV companies actually follow guidelines from the World Health Organization

I had a good laugh thanks....

What else, TV companies can't report about earthquakes because people has scared of them? So maybe not reporting about earthquakes will prevent hem to occur again? What do you think?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Abe says growing regional tensions—including China’s increasingly assertive stance in various territorial disputes—and the erratic actions of North Korea mean Japan must be better prepared to defend itself.

Abe doesn't need to revise constitution to defend JP for both of the above conditions! On the contrary, Abe can send troops to Korea land because Japanese' safety is influenced due to NK threat. Japanese used the same execuse to enter Korea 100 years ago because Japanese in Korea was in dangers! Like father like son, Abe is definitely digging a big deep hole for whole Japan that's what I really worried!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Uh-oh, it's time to panic!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

seriously, the japanese press is such a lap dog of the government. a loony cuts the hands of two AKB girls and there's nonstop coverage of it. a man self-immolates and not even a mention of it this morning on any of the news shows. shocking and pathetic.

True, the 9 pm main news on NHK which completely ignored the protection demonstration. Yes, the same is taking place in other parts of the world to some degree. Sad fact is that we do not have influential alternative media to choose such as InforWars.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

well, i don't think changing japan's current constitution is a necessity for japan and its allies. look at the US, it is now on the verge of ending its involvement in any overseas wars, especially the middle east. not only the US but all those involved allies, NATO, Australia, etc., everyone is now pulling back.. other potential options are now being used instead, which includes diplomacy, intelligence gathering, military advises, and the likes. so, i don't think japan need to change article nine to involve in such wars that are now ending. it is also mentioned somewhere here that Japan already contributed much with financial and perhaps logistical supports to the US base here and other supports for military training, etc.. well, i think changing the current constitution will only create more regional tensions between asian powers, and that is not good for the economy as well. especially those japanese companies that are still competing for their place in china and other asian markets.

the US as well can only accept what japan want to do under the current administration, they cannot oppose it of course..so, if the current administration want to change the constitution, that is not for the US to approve or to take it seriously, it is only for japan (LDP) to decide. so i think the US can only welcome that decision or say yes as an answer, although they might have some reservations about that yes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

daito_hakJun. 30, 2014 - 09:55PM JST "What Japan is doing now is to ensure that the final question you asked need never be answered." This is non sense, Japan has the second most sophisticated and powerful navy on Earth. Japan didn't wait for the >change of the Constitution to build a persuasive force that would guaranty its security. That is, Japan doesn't need to >change the constitution to protect itself, it can already by a large mean.

No it is not nonsense. Japan's military is sophisticated and most likely capable but it is geared entirely for defense. That fact together with the constitutional restraints on what the JSDF can and can not do, effectively remove the claws from the paw. The changes now being implemented would help put the claws back in, resulting in other nations taking Japan's defense capability more seriously.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I don't know what many here have in mind writing about that 'it's censored', 'the government doesn't care about people's voice'? It's been around the biggest matome sites right after that happened. And what's more important - it would be great if the government had completely ignored this happening as that could only provoke houndreds of dumb sicos around Japan to perform something similar.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Read the news and be true to yourself even if you want to fool others. Singapore has great relations with China. So does Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar, Australia, EU, Brazil and Latin American nations, South Africa and many African nations, North and South Korea, Middle Eastern countries and west Asian countries. So don't give the false impression that Japan has friends and China has none. If China has no friends, Japan would not climb up the wall!!!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Constitution changed or not, Japan is already posing as a danger/threat to its neighbours, and acting ignorant. Japan is quieting destroying the Earth, the ocean even without engaging in actual war in past 3 years. Contaminated radioactive water is daily leaking into the ocean, while everyday additional hundreds of ton of "nuclear" water are being stored adding to those already accumulated. Question is how on earth are this ever-increasing nuclear poisoned water in more and more tanks going to be disposed? Global media must focus on this very important matter, and hold Japan to effective solutions.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is a sad story. I hope this man's sacrifice awakens a few minds. The problem with the political system in Japan is that it is not in the hands of the people, but rather an oligarchy of old men. That's why people say it is not a true democracy.

Anyhow, the vast majority of Japanese people obey like robots. They do not think for themselves. Yet they will sacrifice everything for honor whether personal or for country. When you have the country in the hands of militaristic nationalists, then it gets dangerous. THAT is what is scary and THAT is what neighboring countries are afraid of.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Do you think ANY private Japanese individual has ANY say in what goes on in their government? Absolutely not. Winning campaigns are financed by advertising firms and powerful corporations. Nobody else stands a chance. Protests against nuclear energy or against Article 9 are held by a paltry thousand or so individuals. This in a city of 30 million and in a country with a population of 200 million. Japanese-language news outlets survive on advertising firms' money, which survive on political money, which survive on corporate money. The Japanese news is silent--we get stories on petty crime, the weather, and celebrity gossip. Maybe a few halfhearted editorials that nobody pays attention to anyway.

There is almost zero actual intellectual discourse going on in Japan. And even when there is, those people have ZERO power to change ANYTHING. We see the results of this in Fukushima. We see it again in Article 9. And it will never stop, not in our lifetimes. It's a simple imbalance of power. Basic math.

The dead-eyed complacency and money-worship inherent in this country is stupefying. This from a country known for Buddhism and Shinto and self-proclaimed social tranquility and calm. Well, Japan, there is in fact a difference between tranquility and bovine conformism.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Do you think ANY private Japanese individual has ANY say in what goes on in their government?

Puzzling. Of course they do. If it were that EASY, prior cabinets would of revised it long time ago.

Even with this rather trivial "setting limits/restrictions on collective self defense", the political parties and their elected members are still going back and forth. As to the Japanese language media, it appears you just skipped the political articles and editorials because major outlets such as Asahi and Sankei have opposite divergent views when it comes to this particular issue.

As to the media coverage or the lack of details in it, bigfujiyama is absolutely correct for there are guidelines set forth by WHO in regards to reporting suicides or suicide attempts.

http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/resource_media.pdf

http://www8.cao.go.jp/jisatsutaisaku/link/kanren.html

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@nigelboy

Fair points, all. And I admit my first post tended toward hyperbole. But I'll stand by it. I would argue that prior cabinets / parliaments declined to address the Article 9 issue out of significantly more venal motivations. A desire to sit truly comfortably under U.S. military protection while devoting all national resources to an economic miracle, for example. (All the while playing the "look at us, poor Japan, open your import markets to us" card, I might add.)

Make no mistake--the government of Japan (post-war and pre-war) has never made decisions based on what might potentially be good for the average Japanese citizen. They have made decisions as they have always made them: based on the cold, cynical mathematics of power.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Fair points, all. And I admit my first post tended toward hyperbole. But I'll stand by it. I would argue that prior cabinets / parliaments declined to address the Article 9 issue out of significantly more venal motivations. A desire to sit truly comfortably under U.S. military protection while devoting all national resources to an economic miracle, for example. (All the while playing the "look at us, poor Japan, open your import markets to us" card, I might add.)

Weak argument. Revising the article (or redefining it) to have some sort of collective self defense does very little hinder post war Japanese economic rise. One could very well argue that it might have added more (stronger economic ties with U.S. as well as development of it's own domestic defence industry)

Make no mistake--the government of Japan (post-war and pre-war) has never made decisions based on what might potentially be good for the average Japanese citizen. They have made decisions as they have always made them: based on the cold, cynical mathematics of power.

Sorry. Are you referring to the bureacracy or the cabinet members? If you are talking about the latter, they are just one failed policy/one scandal away from being dissoluted never to be seen again.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@whirledpeas,

Actually the US is putting a great deal of pressure on Japan to play a stronger role in its own security . If that means Japan must first change parts of its Constitution then US is supportive.

good morning, well i might agree, but, if you haven't heard something coming-out from the US President himself for that claim, then u should be wary about that as well, and sometimes u have to question why its always came out from the defense secretary himself but not the very top person (the President). because i think when it comes out from the President himself, then that is a great deal of pressure. the last visit of Pres Obama as well only said something about TPP and all that, but always restraining himself when it comes to Japan's military role. when u listen to the President's last visit to Germany, u can only hear that the German's role should be increased on the international stage. but why he never said that here? the last visit to yasukuni as well also provoke opposition from the US administration as well. so, yep that why i think they can only accept whatever japan wants to do, as that is for the Japanese themselves, and because they (the US) are the ones who made article 9 in the first place, then i think they should be the first ones as well to welcome that change if the current administration is now willing to perhaps revise that version of the constitution. i might be wrong as well but just an opinion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have to disagree with the leader of this article!

It is not the Japanese people that are rushing to reform their constitution rather it is a number of revisionist politicians that seek to restore Japan to 'her glory days'

And what of the news of the suicide attempt in Shinjuku?

From the Japan Times

'Tokyo police said Monday that nothing was known of the man’s condition nearly 24 hours after he was taken to a hospital with severe burns.'

It seems that the Tokyo police have been told to to brush this one under the carpet!

Is it the case that we should all turn a blind eye and fail to express any interest when a Japanese citizen makes such a forceful protest?

No!

The only way we can change this headlong rush into war is if we all keep this subject alive and remind our friends and colleagues that the elected representatives of Japan have a duty to follow the will of the people.

Japanese people demand a referendum now and save your sons and daughters!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Strange the tv-news yesterday at 17:00 gave a list of his injuries and condition.

Don't watch NHK so I don't care what they report or not.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

kurisupisuJul. 01, 2014 - 09:32AM JST It is not the Japanese people that are rushing to reform their constitution rather it is a number of revisionist politicians >that seek to restore Japan to 'her glory days'

Glory days? I suggest you actually study WHAT Japan is doing, WHY they are doing it, and WHO supports it globally.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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