Abe-led Japanese ruling coalition jeopardizing postwar pacifist Constitution

GMT 21:08 2016 Tuesday ,03 May

Arab Today, arab today Abe-led Japanese ruling coalition jeopardizing postwar pacifist Constitution

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Tokyo - XINHUA

The Constitution Memorial Day on May 3 marks the establishment of Japan's war-renouncing Supreme Law since about seven decades ago, but the national holiday is likely to be changed to a memorial day for the last day of the pacifist Constitution due to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's eagerness to amend it.

The 69th anniversary of the Japanese Constitution on Tuesday came ahead of a key upper house election in this summer and if Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its small ruling partner the Komeito Party could win a two-thirds majority in the 242-member chamber, it will not hesitate to initiate a motion to amend the Constitution.

Abe has reiterated since he returned to power that Constitutional amendment is a main political goal for him and he wants to achieve it within his term ending 2018. According to the Supreme Law, amending the Constitution requires two thirds approval in both chambers in the bicameral national Diet. The ruling camp has the overwhelming majority in the lower house and is eyeing the upcoming election and a public referendum on the issue thereafter where a majority is also required.

However, ahead of the legal procedure, Abe's Cabinet unilaterally reinterpreted Article 9, the war-renouncing clause in the Constitution, to allow the country to use the right to collective self-defense and new security laws were forcibly enacted thusly.

Such an unpopular step was opposed by over 90 percent of Japanese constitutional experts due to its unconstitutionality. The latest poll by the Asahi Shimbun released on Tuesday showed that about 68 percent of the Japanese public also expressed their opposition to the security laws.

The Asahi Shimbun's poll showed that 55 percent of the respondents said it is not necessary to amend the Constitution, while only 37 percent approved amending it. About 68 percent said that Article 9 should be maintained, the poll added.

Article 9 says Japan shall forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes and also states that "land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."

But recently Japanese government officials' answers over nuclear and biochemical weapons said the Constitution does not ban Japan from obtaining such weapons, a statement apparently contradicting Article 9.

Compared to previous polls by the Japanese major newspaper, those who support Article 9 increased from 54 percent in 2013 to the current 68 percent, while those who support amending the article decreased from 39 percent to 27 percent in the same period.

Constitutional professor Shigeru Minamino at the Kyushu University explained that the change came from the public's sense of danger since they are becoming more and more clear about Abe's attitude toward the Constitution.

"Seventy years have past since the Constitution was written and the law should be changed along with the changing situation," said vice President of the LDP Masahiko Komura in a TV debate on Tuesday on the issue with other political parties' leaders.

Komura said that the LDP will appeal in the upper house election campaign to amend the Constitution, adding if the Japanese public is more interested in the economy, the Constitution review issue will therefore not be a major focal point in the upper house running.

However, economic policies are often used to lure public votes during elections by the LDP and its real intention behind the economy is always the actual political agenda, such as the security laws and the Constitutional amendment.

During the debate on Tuesday, Kazuo Shii, leader of the Japanese Communist Party, said that what should be changed is not the Constitution itself, but the politics that ignores the Constitution. "Abe's government is jeopardizing constitutionalism here and that's why they don't have the right to review it," said Shii.

The Asahi Shimbun said in Tuesday's editorial that the current situation on Japanese constitutionalism is not working properly because of what the government of prime minister Abe is doing, saying that the administration is compromising the universal principles written in the Constitution.

"Abe may think his administration represents the majority of the Japanese public and therefore it can do everything it wants to do, but it is unconstitutional," the editorial said.

It is also ironic that the legitimacy of Abe's government is also under question since the Supreme Court of Japan ruled the outcome of the 2014 lower house general election was in a "state of unconstitutionality."

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