Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoshiko Sakurai

【#613(Special)】“Postwar Disease” behind Hagiuda Bashing

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2019.08.07 (Wed)

August 5, 2019


On July 26, Koichi Hagiuda, executive acting secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, appeared on the online Genron TV over which I preside.

On the July 30 issue of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, reporter Takahiro Okubo wrote that Hagiuda mentioned the replacement of Tadamori Oshima as speaker of the House of Representatives in the context of solidifying a lineup toward constitutional amendment and that senior administration officials expressed anger by saying Hagiuda should be punished for interfering in the speaker selection.

The reporter also wrote that the Hagiuda remark has become controversial within ruling and opposition parties as Hagiuda is a close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and is calling for accelerating discussion on the constitutional amendment.

Pointless bashing

However, the person who mentioned the speaker replacement in the program was not Hagiuda but political journalist Fumito Ishibashi. Hagiuda commented on the importance and roles of the lower house speaker. The Asahi’s criticism is ill-directed.

In the program, Hagiuda, instead of calling for accelerating talks on the constitutional amendment, showed a very flexible and moderate attitude. In the July 21 House of Councilors election the LDP, its junior coalition partner Komeito party and others seen as positive about constitutional amendment failed to secure a two-thirds majority required for initiating the constitutional amendment by four seats. Commenting on the election result, Hagiuda said he would not pursue any slender majority for making decisions on the matter but talk with other political parties and politicians to build consensus.

Although Akira Koike, secretary-general of the Japanese Communist Party, reacted by charging that the Hagiuda remark could overturn the foundation of the parliamentary democracy, according to the Asahi report, Hagiuda’s flexible approach stands in stark contrast to Koike’s criticism.

Don’t avoid discussing constitutional amendment

Why has the Hagiuda bashing come despite such fact? Not only news media but also some politicians within the ruling LDP criticized him in a manner to be guided by wrong media reports. Behind this phenomenon may be Japan’s “postwar disease.”

In the fast-changing international environment, Japan now should enhance its independence in diplomacy and national security with Japan-U.S. alliance as the base. Undoubtedly, constitutional amendment should be one of Prime Minister Abe’s top priorities.

However, not a few people in Japan are against constitutional amendment and greater independence. They have been suffering from the postwar disease. LDP heavyweights such as former House of Representatives Speaker Bunmei Ibuki and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba as well as Kiyomi Tsujimoto, chairwoman of the Diet Affairs Committee of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, who have echoed Asahi’s Hagiuda bashing may be among them.

I would like to ask if they watched the TV program. As noted above, the Hagiuda bashing would never be established among those who actually watched the program. If they criticize Hagiuda even after watching the program, it may represent their reluctance to accept the change of the lower house speaker that was mentioned by Mr. Ishibashi and to proceed with constitutional amendment discussions.

Behind the Hagiuda bashing may be people who are complacent with a superficial security theory under which they pray for peace by relying unilaterally on the United States for Japan’s protection.

Yoshiko Sakurai is a journalist and President of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.