Prominent in the international press this past month has been Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s latest push to have the nation’s constitution amended to support a more belligerent foreign policy. The Japanese people, to their credit, have organized massive protests in opposition to the government’s rising militarism.
While revision of the constitution has been and remains a top priority for Abe’s administration, former envoy Shunji Yanai feels that the matter is simply too pressing to be allowed to continue through the appropriate legal channels. Revising a constitution can take years, after all, and in the meantime, the prohibitions against starting wars or getting involved in other peoples’ wars would remain in place. That is why Mr. Yanai has been appointed as the head of a committee to seek legal loopholes that would allow the government to further erode the interpretation of this portion of the constitution.
The â€œgrowing threatâ€ of North Korea may be the present justification for this policy, but getting Japan to ditch its pacifist constitution so that they can â€œdo their partâ€ in assisting in America’s various international adventures has been a goal of American foreign policy for many years. In 2000, a bipartisan study group featuring such well-placed neocons as Richard Armitage and Paul Wolfowitz issued a report that called the Japanese policy a ‘constraint’ on their alliance and urged a model similar to US-Britain alliance for broadening Japanese involvement in global military operations.
Yohei Kono, the Speaker of the Japanese Parliament says he takes pride in the fact that the Japanese troops haven’t killed a single person in the 60 years since this constitution has been in place. Between that and turning a country devastated by war into the second largest economy on the planet, one can’t help but wonder why there is such haste amongst policymakers, and indeed, why there would be any support at all from the population at large for such a major change. Hasn’t peace served Japan well enough since then? Hasn’t war after war proven enough of a disaster for the nations that have gone down that road since then?