29 July 2005

The very naughty Liberal Democratic Party

This year has seen Japan's ruling party increase its standing with its red state voters, with Prime Minister Koizumi's continued defense of his visits to the Yasukuni war shrine and the Education Ministry's non-banning of a revisionist high school History text. The country's neighbours did not seem happy even when Koizumi made suggestions that the shrine visits were in a personal, not official capacity, or that the high school text was not compulsory, but merely one out of many texts that schools could choose to teach from.

Via Frog in a Well, this should provide more grist for the mill. As part of a study on constitutional reform, an LDP commission recommended that Article 9 of the constitution be changed, to assert Japan's right to possess a "self-defense military". The original text of this famous article reads:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Well, Japan has a Self-Defense Force, but LDP's lawmakers want a Self Defense Military. Asashi Shinbun notes that "the word 'military' has never been officially used to describe the Self-Defense Forces, mainly out of consideration to Japan's neighbors." Up to now.

But there's more. Taking a leaf out of Washingtonian legislation, the LDP committee also tagged on more suggestions, among them a proposal to transform the Emperor of Japan into a mere symbolic figure to someone who would actually represent Japan in diplomatic settings.

The text reads: 自民党新憲法起草委員会(委員長・森前首相)は7日、改憲の「要綱案」を発表した。9条2項を改正し、自衛のための武力組織を「自衛軍」と名付け、軍隊であることを明確に位置づけた。また、象徴天皇制を維持することとし、天皇を「元首」とすることを見送った。委員会は今後、要綱案をもとに結党50年の今年11月に発表する党新憲法草案の条文化作業に入る。

Tak points out that the problematic word here is genshu (元首). It roughly means head of state, but it is a word that comes straight from the pre-war Great Japanese Imperial Constitution. In the old pre-war constitution, the fourth article stipulates that the emperor is the genshu of Japan. This comes right after an article that declares the emperor to be divine.

Cue ominous music?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have written about Yasukuni Shrine, too.
The Wound of Yasukuni Shrine Problem