Japan’s Abe to Push for Pacifist Constitution Reform

Japan’s Abe to Push for Pacifist Constitution Reform

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, buoyed by a huge election win for lawmakers who favor revising Japan’s postwar, pacifist constitution, signaled a push towards his long-held goal on Monday but will need to convince a divided public to succeed.
Parties in favor of amending the US-drafted charter won nearly 80 percent of the seats in Sunday’s lower house election, media counts showed, Reuters reported.
 “We won a two-thirds majority as the ruling bloc, but it is necessary to strive to form a wide-ranging agreement among the ruling bloc and opposition (to revise the constitution),” Abe told a news conference on Monday.
“And then we aim to win the understanding of the people, so that we can gain a majority in a referendum,” Abe said. He stopped short of claiming to have won a mandate for amending the constitution in Sunday’s election.
Amending the charter’s pacifist Article 9 would be hugely symbolic for Japan. Supporters see it as the foundation of post-war democracy but many conservatives view it as a humiliating imposition after Japan’s defeat in 1945.
It would also be a victory for Abe, whose conservative agenda of restoring traditional values, stressing obligations to the state over individual rights and loosening constraints on the military, centers on revising the constitution.
Abe proposed last May adding a clause to Article 9 to legitimize Japan’s Self-Defense Force. Read literally, Article 9 bans a standing military but has been interpreted to allow armed forces exclusively for self defense.
Parliament enacted laws in 2015 allowing Japan to exercise collective self-defense, or aid allies under attack, based on a reinterpretation of the constitution rather than a formal revision.


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