2016: Retaking Japan

Die Verfassung Japans.  Artikel 9 der Friedensverfassung
Source: Asia Pacific Journal / Japan Focus, Volume 14 | Issue 13 | Number 4 | July 1, 2016
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             10. Juli 2016 > Parlamentswahl in Japan (Oberhaus/Sangiin)

Retaking Japan:
The Abe Administration’s Campaign to Overturn the Postwar Constitution

Muto Ichiyo
Translated by John Junkerman

Translator’s note:
This is a translation of a keynote speech delivered by Muto Ichiyo at a peace conference held in Hiroshima Aug. 4-5, 2015, marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the war. The conference, attended by 300 local and national activists, sought to shed new light on the war responsibility of imperial Japan and US responsibility for the atomic bombings. The text has been revised and updated for the Asia-Pacific Journal.
The speech was made during a summer of intense public protests over security legislation then being debated in the Japanese Diet. Despite opinion polls that showed the legislation to be exceedingly unpopular, the laws were rammed through the Diet on September 19, 2015. These contentious issues have now entered a new stage, with the drive to revise Japan’s peace constitution at the center of the Upper House election scheduled for July 10. Muto’s speech analyzes the issues that lie behind the present contest in light of the complex dynamics of Japan’s postwar politics. JJ

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The struggle over reshaping postwar Japan entered a new phase on March 2, 2016, when Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared at an Upper House Budget Committee hearing that he was committed to revising the constitution within his term of office, that is, by September 2018. Changing the postwar regime by fundamentally revising the present pacifist constitution has been Abe’s goal since he returned to power in 2012, but for some time he had avoided clearly stating his plan, knowing that the majority of voters oppose constitutional revision.

In the three elections that have taken place during his administration (including the one that returned him to power in 2012), Abe has trumpeted “Abenomics,” ultra-lax monetary and fiscal policies aimed at extracting the economy from deflation by stimulating consumer spending, as his main political program. However, while campaigning on its economic policies, since the elections the Abe administration has pressed forward with changes in laws, systems, and institutions to heighten Japan’s defense posture and undermine the constraints on Japan’s armed forces imposed by Japan’s constitution.

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