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Yoshiko Sakurai

【#505(Special)】Japan Should Accomplish Historical Mission to Amend Constitution

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2018.03.29 (Thu)

March 26, 2018

     A question arising from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s convention on March 25 was if Japanese politicians, political parties or media have any spirit to protect Japan and its people in the face of a crisis.
     In his address to the convention, LDP President and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a strong call for amending the constitution. “We should stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in the constitution to put an end to the debate on whether the SDF are constitutional.” With few holding the prime minister responsible for the current controversy surrounding the falsification of official documents at the Ministry of Finance, many participants in the LDP convention voiced their support for Abe’s call for the constitutional amendment.

Don’t exploit constitution for politics
     The LDP’s draft constitutional amendment proposal seeks (1) to stipulate Japan’s possession of the SDF, (2) to establish an emergency clause, (3) to abolish a system to integrate two prefectures into a single constituency for House of Councilors elections, and (4) to enhance education.
     On the main amendment point of Article 9, the LDP proposal calls for retaining both Paragraphs 1 and 2 and adding Article 9-2 that would allow Japan to possess the SDF as an armed organization to take necessary self-defense measures to protect Japan’s peace and independence and preserve the safety of the country and its people. The wording of an armed organization “with minimum necessary strength” proposed during LDP discussions on constitutional amendments has been deleted. The SDF is thus defined as an “armed organization” rather than “war potential” banned under Paragraph 2 of Article 9.
     Given an ideal constitution or an ideal modality of national security that Japan should pursue, everyone may think that the proposed amendment is insufficient. However, doing nothing now for accomplishing the ideal in the future represents extreme irresponsibility, considering the current severe international situation. The Komeito party, as a responsible coalition partner of the LDP, should realize this point.
     Meanwhile, most of opposition parties give priority to checking who is responsible for doctoring MOF documents regarding the discounted sale of a state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, rather than amending the Constitution. They should refrain from exploiting the constitution linked to the fundamentals of the country for politics.

Japan should defend itself
     U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his national security adviser, indicating that the Trump administration could toughen its policy toward North Korea. President Trump has invoked steel and aluminum import restrictions against Japan as well as China for national security reasons. This episode clearly shows a universal truth that every country gives top priority to its own interests in the international arena.
     As military and economic confusions are expected between the United States and China, their relations could grow more tense. However, their moves are multilayered. On March 9, the Global Times usually speaking for the Chinese government carried a story indicating that China could compromise with the United States on the denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. This reminds us of the possibility that Washington and Beijing could cut a deal on the Korean Peninsula.
     Given great political and military changes in the vicinity of Japan, we must acknowledge that Japan cannot defend itself just the way it is. But it is Japan’s responsibility to defend itself. That is why Japan must enhance its power as well as strengthening Japan-U.S. security alliance. Amending the constitution is a way to achieve the goal.
     Japan now faces the North Korean crisis, China’s expansionism and U.S. changes. For 70 years, Japan has attempted to preserve its security and existence, “trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world,” in accordance with the preamble of the constitution. The time has come for Japanese politicians, political parties and media to accomplish a historical mission to change the spiritless one-country pacifism.

Yoshiko Sakurai is President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals