The LDP is betraying pacifism by seeking constitutional revision and endangering peace in the region

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Protesters gather at Shiba Park in Tokyo, Japan on May 22, 2022. US President Joe Biden arrived in Japan on Sunday as about 750 protesters took to the streets here against the planned US-Japan summit and the summit of the quadripartite security dialogue (the Quad). Photo: Xinhua

Japan has embarked on a dangerous path with a series of reckless domestic and foreign policies that seriously threaten peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. The latest move sees Japan embarking on a campaign to press ahead with changes to its pacifist constitution at home, aside from attempting to double its defense budget.

In terms of foreign policy, Tokyo has sought to play up the Ukraine crisis and the so-called “China threat” to support and endorse NATO expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, while constantly provoking China in its core interests.

Such a major shift in Japan’s foreign and domestic policies, aimed at reviving its militaristic past that has wreaked havoc on many in the Asia-Pacific region and helping to bring the notoriously confrontational NATO to the region, requires vigilance among countries in Japan region, analysts noted.

Ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s attendance at next week’s NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, who would become the first Japanese prime minister to do so, Toshimitsu Motegi, the country’s No. 2 ruling Liberal Party (LDP), told the media on Monday announced that he wants Parliament to begin the process of constitutional reforms after the July 10 House of Representatives election.

The secretary-general of the LDP said “after the election, we intend to propose constitutional revisions to the state legislature as soon as possible and implement the proposed changes,” Japan’s Kyoto News Agency reported on Monday.

A two-thirds majority vote in both houses is required for a post-war revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to begin.

Motegi’s comments were made on condition that legislative supporters, including the LDP, its junior coalition partner Komeito, the Japan Innovation Party and the Democratic Party for the People, would secure two-thirds or more seats in the upper house election, the report said .

Article 9 of the Constitution renounces Japan’s ability to wage war and prohibits it from maintaining “land, sea and air forces and other war potential.” The constitution has never been amended since it was promulgated in 1946. More than two-thirds of MPs in both the Upper House and House of Representatives must vote in favor of the proposals. The changes would then have to be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum.

Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who served from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020, had sought an overhaul of the Supreme Charter during his tenure. He had called for the legal status of the country’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to be clarified by specifically mentioning it in the constitution, to end arguments that the SDF was unconstitutional.

If the constitutional change succeeds in the future, Japan is likely to get rid of the coercion of the pacifist constitution, can participate in overseas wars and join the aggressive multilateral organization NATO, and try to develop into a military power, which will be very harmful to Japan, in the Asia-Pacific region and into the world, Liu Jiangyong, vice dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The “remilitarization” ambition of the Japanese right-wing forces was also revived after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. On Sunday, leaders of Japan’s ruling and opposition parties, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, debated on television whether Japan should consider acquiring a nuclear submarine. Kishida, who leads the ruling LDP, stressed the need to strengthen Japan’s defenses at a time when Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and “Chinese military assertiveness” have highlighted Japan’s security challenges.

The ruling LDP national security body also advised the Kishida government in April 2022 not only to increase its defense spending to 2 percent of Japan’s GDP, but also to strike at enemy bases in response to the growing threat from China, North Korea and Russia.

Under the pacifist constitution, Japan has committed itself to an exclusively defense-oriented policy and has limited its defense spending to around 1 percent of GDP. Despite this, Japan’s military spending ranks seventh in the world, according to the media.

The Global Firepower Index (GPI) ranks Japan fifth in the world in terms of total military power. In the global ranking of military strength published by Japanese media, Japan ranks fourth in the world.

It is not reasonable for Japan to significantly increase defense spending when its economy is stagnating and GDP is shrinking, Liu stressed, noting that the pursuit of military expansion and war preparation in violation of national interests is outrageous.

“This is a blatant provocation, which sees China as the main threat and changes the direction of Japanese national politics. It’s very dangerous,” Liu warned.

In a series of draft proposals in April as part of the Japanese government‘s revision of the National Security Strategy, or long-term policy, and two other key documents on defense, a national security body of the ruling LDP attempted to describe China more strongly as a security threat along with Russia and North Korea, Kyodo reported .

Liu noted that this is the first time since World War II that Japan has adopted such a strategic positioning towards its neighbors.

The LDP’s push for constitutional amendments has sparked widespread opposition in Japan.

A meeting against the amendment to Article 9 was held in a hall of the House of Representatives in Tokyo on Monday. Participants included local residents, scientists, journalists, professors and artists. The assembly opposed the Japanese government using the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a pretext to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities.

“The only way to keep the peace in Japan is to uphold Article 9,” said the organizer of the gathering. Another participant said the increase in the military budget would reduce spending on welfare, health care and education, which are closely linked to people’s livelihoods in Japan.

The devaluation of the yen and rising prices have led to increasing complaints from the Japanese public about the current government, and against this backdrop, it will not be easy for the LDP and other constitution-changing forces to claim a landslide victory in the July 10 House of Council elections, he said liu

going against the times

The Yomiuri Shimbun also reported on Tuesday that Kishida was considering meeting South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the sidelines of the NATO summit, saying the leaders are likely to have their say would express unity in “resisting unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, with a view to Beijing.”

According to Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Kishida will urge heads of state at the NATO summit to turn their attention to Asia, stating that Japan will “fundamentally strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities within the next five years” and push the Japan-US alliance to a higher level .

Kazuyuki Hamada, the president of the Research Institute for Future Technologies and former parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview that Kishida seems to be cementing his stance that an “enlarged NATO” is indispensable and against it is the time, a ” to propose a global NATO” that will lead to a new cold or hot war.

“Japan’s advocacy of and implementation of an ‘Asian NATO’ or ‘Global NATO’ is nothing short of countering the post-Cold War era,” Hamada said. “This unnecessarily exacerbates the arms race and reduces the value of diplomacy.”

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun report, the issue of supporting the Pacific island nations where China is expanding its influence should also be on the agenda.

Liu warned that the summit consisted of the NATO members and the four Asia-Pacific countries could be institutionalized, meaning the aggressive alliance between the US, European countries and Japan is beginning to take shape and the military net against China weaves.

Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, pointed to the “back-scratching” relationship between the US and Japan in the Asia-Pacific region. The US has caved in to Japan’s ambitions to remove the shackles on military development under the current Japanese constitution as the US hopes Japan can contain China in the Asia-Pacific region, Da said.

Japan is trying to use the China-US confrontation to achieve its goal of completely lifting its military and political restrictions, Da said.

Japan believes that the strategic contradictions between China and the US are insurmountable and wants to take this opportunity to try to revise the constitution and forge an international, violent, multilateral alliance by bringing NATO’s strength to the region said Liu.

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