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.
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.
- Tokyo Protesters Say No to Amending Constitution (abcnews.go.com)
- Japanese government honours World War II criminals (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- PM Abe feels no need to explain constitutional revisions to S Korea, China (japandailypress.com)
- Abe vows painful reforms in Japan (rinf.com)
- Japan’s communists are making waves (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Implications of Japan’s LDP election win (channelnewsasia.com)