Japan moves to revise "peace constitution"

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party are taking steps to revise the Constitution to clarify the role of the country's military.  There are powerful implications for American foreign policy in East Asia.

Since the tragedy of 9/11, PM Koizumi has been a key ally in the global war on terror and in America's efforts to check the growing influence of the Chinese military in the region.  Planning to leave office next September, Koizumi wants to 'normalize' Japan's ability to protect his country, in the event of a military attack.

The push for reform is also receiving impetus from North Korea's nuclear ambitions.  With the six—party talks showing few signs of concrete progress, many conservative members of the ruling LDP believe this is the time for reform. 

Imposed by Allied Forces following World War II, Article 9 of the Constitution has been debated for years among Japanese intellectuals and Asian experts.  After its wartime brutality and utter devastation, Article 9 renounced Japan's ability to wage war.

Defining the country's prime minister as the 'supreme commander tasked with ensuring the nation's peace and independence' the LDP's draft constitution was partially written by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, a friend of conservative hero President Reagan.

The Japan Times reports:

The LDP's draft constitution retains Clause 1 of the original Article 9, which stipulates that the nation renounces war as a means of settling international disputes.

But Clause 2, which prohibits the nation from possessing a military, has been deleted.

The LDP is planning to unveil the draft Constitution on the upcoming occasion of the party's 50th anniversary, which will be marked on Nov. 22.

With Koizumi's repeated visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine generating intense anger across much of Asia, the prime minister also wants to clarify the interpretation of Article 20 that separates religion from politics. 

 
The Japan Times continues:

The LDP's draft prohibits the nation and public organs from engaging in religious education or any other religious activity that will lead to support for or interference with a specific religion beyond the scope of social courtesy, manners and customs.

These potential constitutional reforms are just another item on a long list of debates Japan has with its Asian neighbors.  Unfortunately, for the peace and prosperity of region, they will only add to the widespread perception in Beijing and Seoul that Koizumi can't be trusted.    

Briah Schwarz   10 30 05

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party are taking steps to revise the Constitution to clarify the role of the country's military.  There are powerful implications for American foreign policy in East Asia.

Since the tragedy of 9/11, PM Koizumi has been a key ally in the global war on terror and in America's efforts to check the growing influence of the Chinese military in the region.  Planning to leave office next September, Koizumi wants to 'normalize' Japan's ability to protect his country, in the event of a military attack.

The push for reform is also receiving impetus from North Korea's nuclear ambitions.  With the six—party talks showing few signs of concrete progress, many conservative members of the ruling LDP believe this is the time for reform. 

Imposed by Allied Forces following World War II, Article 9 of the Constitution has been debated for years among Japanese intellectuals and Asian experts.  After its wartime brutality and utter devastation, Article 9 renounced Japan's ability to wage war.

Defining the country's prime minister as the 'supreme commander tasked with ensuring the nation's peace and independence' the LDP's draft constitution was partially written by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, a friend of conservative hero President Reagan.

The Japan Times reports:

The LDP's draft constitution retains Clause 1 of the original Article 9, which stipulates that the nation renounces war as a means of settling international disputes.

But Clause 2, which prohibits the nation from possessing a military, has been deleted.

The LDP is planning to unveil the draft Constitution on the upcoming occasion of the party's 50th anniversary, which will be marked on Nov. 22.

With Koizumi's repeated visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine generating intense anger across much of Asia, the prime minister also wants to clarify the interpretation of Article 20 that separates religion from politics. 

 
The Japan Times continues:

The LDP's draft prohibits the nation and public organs from engaging in religious education or any other religious activity that will lead to support for or interference with a specific religion beyond the scope of social courtesy, manners and customs.

These potential constitutional reforms are just another item on a long list of debates Japan has with its Asian neighbors.  Unfortunately, for the peace and prosperity of region, they will only add to the widespread perception in Beijing and Seoul that Koizumi can't be trusted.    

Briah Schwarz   10 30 05