Japan Moving Ahead with Wartime Constitutional Reforms

This is being described largely as a move that would enable Japan to exercise a more aggressive military posture and that’s certainly a major goal, but Shinzo Abe, Japan’s new conservative PM, is targeting Article 96, which requires that constitutional amendments must have a sizable legislative majority and must win a referendum. If he can get enough legislative and referendum support to alter 96, then Japanese conservatives will be able to begin rewriting Japan’s constitution.

Going for Article 96 is a clever move, because it dodges the inevitable debate over remilitarization and becomes a technical debate. Enough Japanese may simply not want the responsibility of dealing with the military issue and be willing to vote to give the ruling coalition enough power to rewrite it. And once Abe has that, he isn’t likely to stop with opening up Japan’s military options.

The Japanese constitution is a mess, hastily written and rewritten by American military personnel, some of them amateurs. The section on women’s rights for example was reportedly written by a 23-year-old American civilian translator. That’s not exactly the sort of thing that inspires national pride.

On the military front, Abe’s ambitions aren’t too big. He’s starting off with a National Security Council, which will be crucial for warfighting capabilities but doesn’t seem all that scary. In Japan however setting up a military command infrastructure has all sorts of historical implications. During the 20th Century, a military command infrastructure became a runaway express train headed for war. That isn’t likely to happen this time around, but it certainly will go on being a major talking point, especially for the Japanese Left.

The problem is that the left has gotten its way and the country is a mess. Japan has a staggering debt and a stagnating economy. Its birth rate is on the verge of pushing the country toward major depopulation. Combine that with the collapse of American power under Obama, North Korea’s nuclear program and growing Chinese aggressiveness, and it’s no wonder that Abe is back.

Abe, unlike most politicians, acts as if he has clear answers for Japan’s problems. And with Article 96, Japan may be willing to give him the power to try solving them without asking too many questions about what exactly he intends to do.

  • Johnconrad

    With the kooks in North Korea nearby and Obama's feminized military, what choice do they have?

    We certainly don't have their backs.

    • readbetweenthelines

      Feminized military? A military is a military, and whether it is led by males, females, transgender, or homosexuals, it is a military nonetheless… they receive the same officer training and are all equally as capable. So leave your uneducated sexist remarks out of this, and if your concern is the US having the 'their' backs, blame the poor judgements of administrations past who were so adamant on finding WMD's that never existed, you now owe billions in aid and will have to pay veterans for damages in years to come. It's estimated about 3 trillion will inevitably be spent on spreading 'democracy' to the middle east. You can bet this will be reflected in your budgets in years to come… Or perhaps you could also blame the poor judgements of financial institutions causing financial crisis'… That's why your military has no money to spend, why aircraft carriers can't deploy, and your economy is an absolute mess. And FYI, you do have Japans back, do you forget how many US bases are in Japan?

  • Mary Sue

    yeah, they're pretty much between a rock and a hard place. They need to fix that now that USA is not AOK anymore.

  • mmichlin

    Constitutions (and the American on in particular) are made hard to change on purpose. Are you advocating making it easier while conservatives have the power and then making it harder again in case the left takes the power back? Isn’t it a cynical proposition? Would you have advocated making it easier to change the US Constitution while Reagan was president?

    If you have enough majority change the specific articles out of principal and NOT out of the convenience of the moment.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Nothing is being advocated

  • Earl H. Kinmonth

    The problem is that the left has gotten its way and the country is a mess. Japan has a staggering debt and a stagnating economy.

    You'll have to explain this claim to me. Japan has NEVER had a seriously left wing government. The deficit was entirely accumulated under the center-right LDP. The only somewhat left-wing governments Japan has has since the LDP was formed in 1955 have been at the local level (communist and socialist governors who actually could do very little).