Japanese protest against militarism

In this 3 May 2016 video, people in Japan demonstrate for keeping the ‘pacifist’ article IX of the Japanese constitution.

By Ben Chacko:

Tokyo rallies against change to constitution

Friday 03 May 2013

Thousands of protesters rallied in central Tokyo today to mark the 66th anniversary of Japan’s pacifist constitution and oppose government attempts to change it.

Trade unions, religious organisations and political parties were represented at the march from Hibiya park through the Ginza shopping district.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is attempting to drop the requirement that a two-thirds parliamentary majority is needed before amendments to the constitution go to a referendum.

Mr Abe‘s Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) wishes to amend the constitution’s famous article IX, in which Japan renounces the use of war.

MP Gen Nakatani complained today that “China is getting stronger and stronger and our military is confined to a purely defensive posture.”

The PM said it should be altered to allow “collective defence” so it can fight alongside the United States, which has 50,000 soldiers based in Japan, if the latter gets involved in a war in the Far East.

He has also suggested that civil liberties currently guaranteed by the constitution, including freedom of speech, should be subordinate to the “public interest.”

But the bid to attack freedom of expression in the name of “patriotism” has sparked anger in a country with a fascist past.

And Japan’s unique experience as the only country hit by nuclear weapons – the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – has led to a widespread resistance to war on principle.

At the rally Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii and Social Democrat chairwoman Mizuho Fukushima marched side by side carrying a banner reading: “Keep Article IX shining.”

Mr Shii warned that weakening the barrier to amending the constitution went against “common sense.

“The constitution exists to protect your rights,” he said. “There are good reasons it isn’t easy to amend.”

Ms Fukushima pointed out that “if it can amend it through a simple majority the government can make whatever changes it wants whenever it suits it.”

The Liberal Democrats’ coalition partner New Komeito has also expressed concern over changing the constitution – but the LDP has vowed to press ahead, stating this week that “the issue is no longer whether to change the constitution, but how.”

Prime Minister Abe visited Burma and met with the Indian prime minister last month as part of his “strategic diplomacy” to rebuild Japan as a major power: here.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking control of both parliamentary houses to press ahead with his militarist, pro-market agenda. He plans to free the Japanese military from the constraints of the so-called pacifist constitution and implement economic restructuring measures that will impose new burdens on working people: here.

The recent Tokyo Assembly elections resulted not only in a predictable victory for the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) over its Democratic Party (DPJ) rivals but also a surprise result at the opposite end of the political spectrum, with the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) more than doubling its seats: here.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secured a clear majority in Japan’s upper house of Diet, or parliament, in elections held yesterday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will now exploit his control of both parliamentary houses to ram through his right-wing agenda of militarism and austerity: here.

Japan’s Defence Ministry called for a major increase in military capabilities and a more “assertive” role in the region today: here.

In another move that will further inflame regional tensions, the Japanese government issued a defence report last Friday calling for the country’s military to acquire the ability to strike “enemy” missile sites, including potentially in China, as well as North Korea: here.

The draft constitution prepared by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party scraps fundamental democratic rights: here.

27 thoughts on “Japanese protest against militarism

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  5. Abe’s LDP takes over upper house

    JAPAN: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition won a comfortable majority in the upper house of parliament today, according to unofficial results.

    Having control of both houses will allow Mr Abe to push ahead with his quest to revive the stagnant Japanese economy aimed at encouraging private investment as well as his hawkish desire to weaken his country’s pacifist constitution.



    • PM’s upper house sweep clears way for ‘Abenomics’

      Monday 22 July 2013

      by Ben Chacko

      Japan’s ruling coalition won a majority in elections to parliament’s upper house at the weekend.

      Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed the results were an endorsement of his “Abenomics” economic policy as his Liberal Democrats raised their share of seats to 115 of 242.

      Together with coalition partners New Komeito the government now has 133 seats in the House of Councillors – giving it control of both chambers for the first time.

      After the official results were announced today, Mr Abe said: “Today is the real start for us,” pledging to “get the economy back to recovery.”

      He argues that his policies, which include raising public investment, quantitative easing and an inflation target of 2 per cent following years of price falls, have turned a page on Japan’s decades-long stagnation.

      But the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) says actual economic growth has been tiny and has mainly benefited a handful of large corporations rather than working people.

      The JCP raised its number of upper house seats from six to 11 in the election – with new Councillor Yoshiko Kira becoming the first communist to win a seat in Tokyo in 12 years.

      Ms Kira, who at 30 is as young as members of the upper house are allowed to be, said her election proved growing popular anger at Mr Abe’s bid to rewrite the pacifist constitution and reactivate dormant nuclear power plants.

      The prime minister shows no sign of abandoning his controversial plans to change the constitution and said today he would begin by tackling Article 96, which stipulates that a two-thirds majority is needed in both houses of parliament in order to put changes to the electorate.



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  8. 80 years ago today…

    Sunday 04 August 2013

    Graham Stevenson explores our online archive of the Star’s early years

    Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Chinese citizens were suffering in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Famine was sweeping across the northern provinces as peasants were unable to sow crops.

    Aggressive behaviour by the Japanese threatened Soviet troops stationed just across the border, who could not give humanitarian aid.

    The scorched-earth policy of the invader was causing epidemics and mass starvation. The “hundreds of suicides a day” meant many bodies “hanging from fences and trees or floating down the rivers.”

    Preserving life was only possible “by eating the bark of trees and leaves.”

    Yet exports of war materiel from Britain to Japan the previous year included:

    5,975,000 machine gun bullets,
    230 machine guns,
    10,250 40mm shells,
    10 anti-aircraft guns,
    38 anti-aircraft gun mountings,
    Four Carden-Loyd armoured cars, which the Japanese immediately copied, and
    110,000 steel helmets.

    Large quantities of chemicals and raw materials needed to make munitions were also sent. Vickers guns were used on all Japanese war aircraft, many of which had British-made engines.

    The Worker stressed the need to turn out in great numbers for the Great Anti-War protest. “To prevent the shipping of more munitions … demonstrate against the trade in death!”



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