Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

  • HOME
  • Speaking Out
  • 【#476】Chance Finally Emerges for War-Renouncing Article 9 to Be Amended
Taro Yayama

【#476】Chance Finally Emerges for War-Renouncing Article 9 to Be Amended

Taro Yayama / 2017.10.26 (Thu)

October 23, 2017

     The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s dominant strength against other Japanese political parties remained unchanged through the latest general election of the House of Representatives. However, the breakup of the largest opposition Democratic Party into the Party of Hope and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan may fundamentally change the world of politics and parliamentary management style. Japanese Communist Party-led coalition of all opposition parties against any government policies has come to an end. The CDP may continue to form a coalition with the JCP, but the picture will change dramatically. Parliamentary panels on constitutional amendments are likely to start deliberations.

Parliamentary management may drastically change
     The screening of candidates for the Party of Hope by its leader and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is widely blamed as causing the opposition’s defeat. However, the screening has triggered the Democratic Party’s breakup which contributed to the creation of the new composition of the political world. It is now clearly divided into three poles – conservatives (the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito), centrist conservatives (the Party of Hope and the Japan Innovation Party) and leftists (the CDP and the JCP).
     CDP leader Yukio Edano has taken the position that any constitutional amendment based on the approval of the exercise of collective self-defense right is not acceptable because the approval is unconstitutional. The CDP will oppose any amendment along with the JCP that has vowed to keep the current constitution. Earlier, the political world had been divided into two groups over the constitutional amendment -- the ruling coalition and leftists absorbing the whole Democratic Party.
     The Democratic Party breakup may radically change future parliamentary management. The Japan Innovation Party and the Party of Hope have emerged as a new pole through their electoral alliance. Japan Innovation Party leader and Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui has said he would not reject deliberations on constitutional amendments. Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara has made a similar remark. Although the Party of Hope leadership may change depending on Maehara’s possible accession to the party, the new pole will never form a united front with the JCP.
     The JCP had unilaterally benefited from the united front of opposition parties with the cover of “all opposition parties.” As the JCP failed to orchestrate such coalition for the latest election, the number of JCP seats in the Lower House has been almost halved. The result indicates that the Democratic Party leadership had been rigid in cooperating with other opposition parties, affecting parliamentary functions as the result of the cooperation. The failure of the rigid parliamentary management may help invigorate parliamentary discussions.

Popular acceptance of a hardliner policy against North Korea
     While Komeito is cautious of amending the constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9, the participation by the Party of Hope and the Japan Innovation Party in deliberations on constitutional amendments is expected to pave the way for the controversial article to be amended in some way. The Party of Hope consists of politicians who have chosen to accept constitutional amendments and the 2015 security law.
     The North Korean crisis could reach a critical point within this year. The insensitiveness of the opposition parties to North Korean threats has allowed the LDP to remain dominantly strong in Japan’s political world. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is viewed hawkish within the LDP, none within the party has urged him to be replaced. Instead, calls have emerged for Abe to win his third term as LDP president next year. This apparently indicates that Abe’s thinking has become a common sense within the LDP and has been accepted by voters.

Taro Yayama is a Director, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and a political analyst.