Japan Today

The deeper agenda behind Abenomics - constitutional change

By Linda Sieg, Yuko Yoshikawa and Tetsushi Kajimoto

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

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Japan’s security ally, the United States, would likely welcome an easing of the constitution’s constraints on Japan’s military. But Washington worries that Abe’s efforts to strike a less apologetic tone on wartime history will further strain ties with China and South Korea, who suffered under Japan’s occupation and colonization before and during World War Two.

If the USA welcomes an easing of the constitution’s constraints on Japan’s military, they can't be afraid about the fact that this change will further strain ties with China and South Korea at the same time. It's a simple matter of coherence. The truth is that the USA are ok with it, for strategic reasons. Stop.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan has been one of the most peaceful nations in Asia for the past 60 years and Article 9 in practical terms has not negatively impacted its general population here. Needless to say, Japan became the second biggest economy in the world, now third.

If the region were to continue to enjoy peace, there would be no practical need to change Article 9.

However, that doesn't look very likely under current events, which only indicate greater unrest. Ideologically, the Japanese population should say no. Practically, though, that's looking more and more like a gamble.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Where is the Japanese language version of this article? Japanese people need to be more informed about this guy's agenda.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The political autobiography of Mr. Abe is truly fascinating, even for an American. As someone who is very interested in Japanese History and Politics, I am truly amazed at the renaissance of Mr. Abe's political career. I am hopeful that Mr. Abe's Economic Plan will be successful in the long-term as it has apparently been in the short term. In terms of Mr. Abe's desire to restore traditional Japanese cultural values, and create a more Japanese oriented Constitution, as an American, I really have no rightful say. I am hopeful that should this occur, that the "New Japan" under Mr. Abe will be as successful as has been the Post-War Japan.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

This is an Editorial right? Don't think the writers like Abe much.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

1/"Occupation officials in February 1946, not only restricted Japan’s right to defend itself but also eroded traditional mores by emphasizing individualism and citizens’ rights over social harmony and duty to the state. 2/"“The constitution puts individual rights too far out in front,” said Komor" So now you have it, the die hards don't want you to have rights, only those that the state wants you to have(scary). This next quote seems as if those behind Abe don't want him to say something they don't want him to say, "Abe spends considerable effort wooing media executives but shuns the brief daily stand-up Q&A sessions with reporters that tripped him up the first time."

4 ( +4 / -0 )

the Americans have wanted an constitutional amendment since the korean war.. a war that Japan profited, by supplying the Americans with war-materials. Due to the nature of our times, even if there is an amendment, the Yoshida doctrine will still remain, so its unlikely that the 50,000 odd US troops will leave anytime soon.. therefore even if the SDF is formally recognized as the worlds 9th largest military, military independence will not be given.

After-all, Kishi`s greatest legacy, was his ramming tactics.. as tens of thousands of people protested outside parliament, hundreds of thousands of people across the nation.. hundreds injured, and the opposition party thrown out.. the United States-Japan Security Treaty was rammed through parliament.. although it cost him his career, even today his called 昭和の妖怪。.. if kishi shaped modern day japan.. its no wonder his grandson wants to have a legacy akin to that..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Honestly, this is scary. Abe's grandfather was imprisoned though never tried as a war criminal and now he is advocating for a return to a more collectivistic culture - Japan is already the most collectivistic culture in Asia and we have seen how the Japanese people can be led to commit atrocities in war - I fear a change in its constitution will return Japan to the dangerous conservative roots of Abe's grandfather.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is an Editorial right? Don't think the writers like Abe much.

It is signed, I don't know if it's an editorial or not. Anyway, I'm reading some editorials from The Asahi Shimbun:

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201305230044 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201305220015 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201305210035

They are great and clearly against discrimination and nationalism. So, Japanese people have the means to avoid to be badly influenced by LDP nationalist tendency.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Military is not always for defense. It is a business sector itself. Legalization of the military also permits the export and manufacture of arms, which drives the income of the government and that of a country. Majority whenever they hear about Military they think about war all the time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Abe's grandfather was imprisoned though never tried as a war criminal

And the Americans were ok with that. Like they were ok with other ugly stuff. "After Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, Douglas MacArthur became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, rebuilding Japan during the Allied occupation. MacArthur secretly granted immunity to the physicians of Unit 731, including their leader, in exchange for providing America, but not the other wartime allies, with their research on biological warfare." From< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731#cite_note-8> And some American people wonder why Japanese have a distorted view of history...The Americans in the first place are responsable for that, they needed a right-wing Japan during the cold war, and they need a right wing Japan also today. With Germany they acted different, because it was partially under soviet control.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An agenda to crush individualism and human rights, eh? Sounds reasonable enough.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sorry, this is the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731 .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I only hope the Japanese people will reject the changes to the constitution. The changes will not benefit the people and will remove and restrict freedoms. Unfortunately, NHK presents a distorted picture, with trivial items such as "look at how many times other countries have changed their constitutions", suggesting that the Japanese should change the constitution just because other countries have changed theirs. Then they show some "expert" saying things like "I'd like the Japanese people to try changing the constitution", without offering any reasons why. There is no analysis of the implications of the proposed changes, no mention of conscription, the loss of free speech etc.

If you want your children to be forced into the army and sent off to die in a faraway dump then you should vote for a change in the constitution. If you want to remain free, vote "no".

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Do these politicians have any idea how all of this reflects on Japan elsewhere? Hashimoto's week long misogynistic tirades & denying war crimes? Abe outright advocating taking away individual rights considered normal in most of the world. Undo-ing the constitution looks more like chomping at the bit to go to war than trying to modernize the WWII laws. I thought his desire to restart reactors was bad. WTF....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So, I assume Abe wants to round up all the "black van" groups who use the protection of individual rights to spew their extreme views and disrupt social harmony.

Who are you going to oppress, Abe, the kids with nose rings or the criminals with tattoos?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So called conservatives long for a time that never actually existed. It is a sense of sentimentalism that is nearly universal in the right wing scope of politics anywhere in the world.

The reality is that Japan still has pride. Still have independence and has a better standing on the global stage because of her constitution, not in spite of it.

But conservatives are also about power and control. Power gives them the ability to force their unreasonable sentimentalist agenda upon others who may not share their point of view. It also gives them the ability to control others. Nearly every right wing movement in history is about control.

If Abe succeeds he sacrifices the one aspect of Japanese politics that could give the country unbounded influence. Under the right leadership a pacifist japan could become a nation that defines peace leadership. It would make it nearly impossible for China to bully Japan without global condemnation. It could enable Japan to provide a Switzerland level neutrality in politics that could redefine her historical role.

But all this depends upon two things. 1. Enlightened leadership. 2. The prevention of the right wing agenda.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In terms of Mr. Abe's desire to restore traditional Japanese cultural values, and create a more Japanese oriented Constitution, as an American, I really have no rightful say.

I hope you don't seriously think that the Japanese people approve of his "traditional Japanese cultural values" which really means more or less going back to the WW2 era Japan.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Let them try to go back to 1930 Japan. I would like to see this.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

@chucky3176: basically you want another war in Asia. Nice. Just to please the USA and Europeans. You know, in times of economic crisis, wars are the best solution for every problem. Europeans and USA are "great" in this. And I'm talking like that even if I'm European! Man, don't you understand that all that West wants is to see Asian countries fighting between them, because a united Asia would be a too much powerful competitor? Remember that Japan became an aggressor because it copied European imperialism.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Asian people can be really blind. Your average white people have a bad stereotype about Asians. They think Asians are all the same, copycats, western wannabes who make tons of plastic surgery to seem caucasians, etc. People like me, with a sincere interest in Asian culture, are still an exception. Anyway, Asians prefer to admire West, rather than to become close allies between them. Sigh.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, I hope his agenda for the time is to postpone the sales tax hike and kick TPP at the last moment. But yes, his true color is anti-America. He thinks independence will make Japan normal and sane. Learn from Vietnam, Mongol, Bhutan, Indonesia. People in those countries look more human and happier.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

his true color is anti-America

He is pro-America. Hatoyama was someway "anti-America". Abe is doing exactly what America wants Japan does in this historical moment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

while i have no object to changing the constitution, i am a bit leary of changing the hurdles for revision as it will lower protection for the rights of minorities, i.e. result in mob rule.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Abe and the conservative party is seems to be taking a page out of the George W Bush and the Republicans' policies - Monetary easing and increased spending on defense/security.

Abe needs to tread carefully -- The Bush administration left the US economy in the gutter and an out of control deficit after 8 years of his policies.

As an American, I hope Japan repeals Article 9 so that we can bring our US GI's home and stop spending money on foreign lands.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Abe thankfully is just days away from striking Article 9 from the Constitution and the folks that Japan and the US should thank for this are the PRC and it's servant nations.

If they would have played within the lines and not been so deadset on conquest Japan would have stayed a peaceful nation.

But, the PRC and it's servants just kept pushing and pushing until there is no other recourse than to have the ability to strike back and this pandora's box when opened will not be Japan's fault, it will be their own making.

I for one can't wait until the ball and chain known as Article 9 is flush like last nights dinner!

0 ( +3 / -2 )

“The constitution puts individual rights too far out in front,” said Komori, who with Kasai later became core members of a more recent corporate-executive support group for Abe, the Cherry Blossom Association. “Mr Abe is extremely sensitive to the merits of restoring that sort of Japanese spirit. I was in great agreement with that,” he told Reuters.

Do as I say and not as I do is the message here.

While the Japanese politicians hold their right-wing opinions at the forefront of their minds, they are chaffeured around (at taxpayers expense) eat at high class restaurants (Taro Aso) play golf in the event of tragedy (ex prime minister of Japan Mori) scoff and laugh at the concerns of residents over radioactive milk in Fukushima (live in Diet debates!) The list is pretty much endless and indicative of the fact that the populace of Japan should be more MORE not less individualistic as their cold-hearted politicians are ..............

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This time Abe is pushing first for procedural changes to the constitution’s Article 96 to lower the hurdle for revisions. Currently, Article 96 requires that amendments be approved by two-thirds of the members of each house of parliament, followed by a majority of voters in a public referendum. The LDP wants to change that to a simple majority in parliament, followed by the public vote.

Attempting to change the constitution is one thing, and I am all for a serious public and open debate on the subject. However this Article should NEVER be amended, NEVER. A simple majority in parliament is way too easy to achieve when one party, like now, the LDP, has such a large advantage. They could, and probably will, try to ramrod any number of changes to the constitution and that is scary to say the least.

A country's constitution is the framework from on top of it stands, it will become an almost meaningless piece of toilet paper if all that is needed to change it is a simple majority in the diet.

The referendum that follows is just a formality as the lemmings will go along with whatever Abe tells them too, as far too few people get involved in the political process and vote based mostly upon friendships and "like" and not substance. If the populace voted on substance, I'd bet that over half of the current government wouldn't be there!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yeah, change is all well and good if it is for the right reasons. Sadly, I fear his reasons are not for the evolution of Japan, but an attempt to capture the Japan of old, which is just ludicrous! The world and its economy have evolved greatly in the past 30-40 years and it is impossible to rescue Japan's economy on ideals of old. To me, the only way to rescue Japan is through quality, not quantity. It is impossible to compete with other mass-production countries like, China, Taiwan, etc. Changing the constitution is also a dangerous play. The stigma of Japan's war mongering and imperialism is still too fresh in the minds of Japan's neighbours. Japanese culture is satisfied with a few solemn apologies, but it doesn't fly in the real world. This leads me to ask the question, is Abe's platform to 'reform' or 'deform' Japan's constitution?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why does this send chills through my body? If anything the whole world should be focusing more on individual rights. A country is made from different people, with different circumstances, who have different needs..treating the whole country as a whole to me is wrong, and it might also put a barrier up between Japan and 'the rest' i.e the world. I don't like the sound of it, at all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Abe’s campaign about changing the constitution is as old as my New Zealand beef hot dogs sitting at the bottom of my freezer. Japan is in a lot of trouble. Economically: Nations cannot print their way out of debt. The QQE is just kicking the can down the road. He should be reforming the economy and trying to make things much cheaper to buy. I know that’s a broad statement, but Japan has no choice since it’s economy is largely dependent of domestic spending. Crime and Enforcement: This is where Abe should be focusing his attention. The police need to grow a pair, and go after some of the blatant disregard for common decency. Stopping those damn noisy motorcycles is on the top of my list, along with running red lights and those car boom boom speakers. Security: Do nothing for now. Fix your own backyard first, before complaining about others. Nuclear Power: Abandon it. How can any citizen trust a government that hides the true danger of Fukushima and tries to play it down. The citizens just want to go to work raise their children and eat. Keeping them informed of the danger would at least make them proud of their leaders. I have a feeling that most citizens now feel that they are just cattle, hence the disconnect between the most dangerous human accident this Earth has ever seen. Depopulation: Embrace it! Balance your resources with your population and STOP following the idea that you have to keep growing. Overall, I believe that the leadership elite know that their nation is in decline and are just attempting to bring back the glory days of the 80’s. Won’t happen! Resources are too limited. Start thinking about 100 or 150 years into the future instead of the next 10. There I said it. Oh and Alex80, as an American I have to say, NICE!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Unfortunately, Japan's increased nationalism is directly tied to a more assertive China. As China continues to rise in economic and military might, Japan will have no other way but to counter act the perceived threat. There is no way out of this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The way things stand right now, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will win big in the forthcoming elections. Why? There is no longer any opposition party that is strong enough to put up a serious fight. Minshuto, which ran Japan for the past three years, has self-destructed and is now a shell of its former self. The Hashimoto/Ishihara party is also self-destructing, thanks mainly to Hashimoto's stupid remarks on the comfort women issue. And the other parties are too small and too weak to pose any challenge to the LDP.

So after the election Abe will probably have free run in his effort to rewrite the constitution. If and when he does this, things will surely get pretty interesting around this island nation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Changing article 9 is something that certainly can be up for discussion in my opinion, but article 96 should absolutely be left untouched.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I am completely in favour of Japan altering article nine, it should have been done 40 years ago. That piece of Japan's constitution endangers Japan in ever likely event of a war. Now I know that this opinion is unpopular, particularly with the commenters on this site, but seriously think about it and think about Japan's neighbours.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

With much respect, allow one to put an Australian perspective in regards to this discussion.

I am certain we too would certainly support Japan "revising the 'pacifist' constitution" if that is how your constitution may appear in Japan. But, allow one to say, please do so with sensitivity and genuine international understanding.

The authors of this article note, "Washington worries that Abe's efforts to strike a less apologetic tone on wartime history will further strain ties with China and South Korea, who suffered under Japan's occupation and colonization before and during World War Two."

That may be true for China and South Korea. It is certainly true for Australia. We most definitely suffered at the hands of Japan in World War Two. And, with much respect, I am not sure that many Japanese people today are aware of this historical fact.

Substantial numbers of Australian civilians died when Japanese planes bombed many of our cities at the start of the war. And at least one Japanese submarine sank an innocent passenger ship in Sydney harbour. Up till then we had been very friendly towards Japan and we had done absolutely nothing in any way aggressive towards Japan.

For anyone interested, here are official Australian government accounts of this aggression:

http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/japanese-bombing-of-darwin (and) http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs195.aspx

So, my point is, of course we do not hold grudges. But neither do we want these tragic facts forgotten. That would indeed be disrespectful to the many innocent Australian civilians who died at the hands of Japanese military forces

So please by all means dear Japanese folk, do develop more well earned pride in your fine culture and history if that seems necessary. But simply dear friends, we would ask, don't forget Australia's history also.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Abe acts like a pro-American but his DNA or his collective unconsciousness is not pro-America. His grandfather Kishi Nobusuke revised the Japan-US Security Treaty into something a little more equal. He also tried to change the SOFA which remains unchanged even to this day. What urged him to do so was not so much a sense of lost values or a shred of pride as something quite normal and simple. But as you know Kishi lost office in the storm of the students movement rally opposing the Japan-US Security Treaty. And the student movement was financially supported by CIA. US just wanted to increase Japan's share of defense money. Abe's deeper agenda in pro-American disguise, I believe, is not to show the flag (exercise the right of collective self-defense) but to end the mallet of cash status and occupation of Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

japan is walking that plank of recidivism led by Abe

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Honestly, it's been 70 years, Japan is drastically different from the country this constitution was written for, bringing up things Japan did in world war 2 is just obtuse. German soldiers fight alongside British and American soldiers in Afghanistan without a peep from any other nation in Europe so why can a few particular nations in Asia not do the same. And before you downvote my comment, seriously objectively look at the situation.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Honestly, it's been 70 years, Japan is drastically different from the country this constitution was written for, bringing up things Japan did in world war 2 is just obtuse. German soldiers fight alongside British and American soldiers in Afghanistan without a peep from any other nation in Europe so why can a few particular nations in Asia not do the same. And before you downvote my comment, seriously objectively look at the situation.

You should really be asking why Japan can't do the same. Why are there still bone-headed right-wingers who insist on rewriting their own history. Left-wingers aren't helping much, either, with their absolute "pacifism".

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The Japanese government for all intent and purposes has not change much from Meiji Restoration. Taisho seemed have the great hope for Japan but all the democratic progress sank into militarism in Showa. The right wing of Meiji, Taisho and Showa have never left the politics or the government. You have a ruling class that goes from father to son so the government doesn't change much. Open and free elections but the choices are incestual. If Japan doesn't want to make the same mistakes again, she really needs to understand how Japan 100 years ago went from a democracy into a fascist regime.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites