Abe’s Constitutional Change

by Yuto Murayama

The present Japanese constitution was created in 1946 after World War Two. It states that Japan renounces war in all cases. The current Japanese president, Shinzo Abe, has a plan to change the constitution concerning renunciation of war and make it easier to wage war. Some people agree with the idea because Japanese military strength is weak and Japan can’t protect its people independently. However, there are three main reasons to oppose Abe’s constitutional change: the process is not democratic, we should learn from historical lessons, and it will increase the possibilities of dangerous changes in the Japanese political situation.

First, the process of Abe’s constitutional change is radical and not democratic. Abe decided to change the constitution, especially article 9 about war. However, it is radical thinking because Japan has maintained it for over 60 years. Actually, Japanese people disagree with the change. According to a poll by Yomiuri Press, 51% Japanese people disapproved it (“Abe’s Constitutional Reform Push Slows”).  Moreover, there are many campaigns against of the change, for example, over 2000 Japanese people held protest demonstration in front of the Diet Building in May 13th, 2014. It is obvious that Japanese people do not approve it completely and therefore the change is undemocratic.

Second, the change will ignore historical lessons. During WWII, Japanese people learned lessons about peace. If the changes to the constitution commence, it would mean ignoring the lessons. People in Okinawa strongly opposed the idea. Okinawa is one of the prefectures that have most fearful memories of WWII. Okinawa still has U.S. military bases and the people have to live with weaponry. Therefore, they hate war and disagree with the suggested changes. Although Abe’s LDP won last election, they could not win in Okinawa. Moreover, Japan is the last country that was harmed  by atomic bombs, so Japan should keep the posture of not joining any war. Japan only is able to convincingly relate the horrors of atomic bombs. The Japanese have to learn from historical lessons.

Finally, there is fear that the constitutional change will have unwanted political consequences. To change the Japanese constitution, the government needs two-thirds support in both of Houses of National Diet and to be ratified by a national referendum. However, Abe is trying to ease the rule. If the constitution changes, it may be easier to pass other amendments of the constitution not only article 9, but also the other articles.  Moreover, Japanese fear a change in the relationship between Japan and the US. “Many fear that enabling collective self-defense will do little but turn Japan into a glorified military lackey of the United States”(Shinzo Abe’s Constitutional Ambitions) Japanese military will be controlled by the United States and used to fight America’s foreign wars.  The constitutional change also may stimulate the tensions among Japan and East Asian countries. Recently, the political relations with Japan and East Asian countries are unfavorable for Japan because of territorial problems. If the change happens, they would consider it as a provocation. Therefore, it is dangerous to change the constitution.

In conclusion, the undemocratic progress, ignoring historical lessons and the fear of causing dangerous changes to Japanese peace are problems of Abe’s constitution change. President Abe should stop the radical thoughts and spend time on thinking about it, otherwise he may lose support of the Japanese people and his cabinet will fall.