A change of government in Japan could lead to a change in the country’s pacifist constitution, which was written by the American occupation authorities following the Second World War, and has basically remained unchanged since then. However, there are internal obstacles to be overcome should the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Shinzo Abe, wish to amend the relevant Article 9, which renounces the use of force as a way of settling international disputes.
TOKYO (majirox news) — Japan’s constitution states in Article 9 that “Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” However, Shinzo Abe, almost certainly Japan’s next Prime Minister following the recent election, has stated he wishes to change this, to allow for at least collective self-defense and the establishment of armed forces.
Since a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet, followed by a simple majority in a referendum, Abe may find it hard to make the change, especially since his party’s principal ally, New Komeito, is against such alterations.
“The effect of passing the amendment will be immense,” claims Kuniko Tanioka, lawmaker of Japan’s Upper House of Parliament. “The situation in East Asia will become so tense for the countries nearby, including China and South Korea. I cannot think of any good outcome by passing it.”
Political analysts say that for such an amendment to be passed, Abe must link to a more right-wing group, such as Shintaro Ishihara’s Restoration Party, which has likewise been pushing for a greater military role for Japan, and which gained the third largest number of seats in the recent election.
Though some agree with this, others feel that the change is not desirable, and that Japan should retain its pacifist anti-war stance.
Tomoko Kurosu, a secretary said, “I haven’t decided yet if I support it yet or not. Once the government discloses the details of the amendment and discusses how it will affect Japan, including our neighbors, then I will decide.”
Taro Takanaka, a retired businessman, says, “The time has come to talk about it. Personally, I don’t agree with Kunio Tanioka and don’t believe it would lead to a military confrontation with China.”
However, the economy was the big selling point for most Japanese voters, and if Abe concentrates on what many see as a side-issue, he will come under severe criticism, particularly from his big-business backers, who are relying on him to kick the economy into life. If he decides to push ahead with this, some commentators say he must act fast, using the inertia of the election to push the change through.
Observers are predicting an increased Coast Guard presence around disputed Senkaku Islands.