TOKYO — An influential political lobby in Japan will do its utmost to capitalize on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s election victory and push for the constitution to be revised to allow a more active military, the group’s chairman said Wednesday.
Abe’s gains in the upper house in last weekend’s election mean his party can cobble together the crucial two-thirds majority in both houses to propose a revision and put it to a referendum, if it gets support from lawmakers in other parties open to the changes.
Tadae Takubo, chairman of Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, said the war-renouncing constitution that makes Japan’s defense “defective” needs to be corrected.
It’s time to grow out of Japan’s “silly” postwar goal of becoming an economic power with lightweight military, and seek to restore Japan with more self-respect, traditional family values and principles under the emperor as head of nation, said Takubo, international politics professor at Kyorin University.
“This is a golden opportunity that has never happened before. If I were in the prime minister’s position, I will go all out to accomplish a revision during the current term,” Takubo said. His organization will provide full support to push forward the drive, he said.
For Abe and his ultra-conservative supporters, like Nippon Kaigi, the 1947 constitution is the legacy of Japan’s defeat in World War II and an imposition of the victor’s world order and values. The charter renounces the use of force in international conflicts and limits Japan’s military to self-defense only, although Japan has a well-equipped modern army, navy and air force that work closely with the United States, its top ally.
Abe’s ruling party proposed revisions to the constitution in 2012 that intended to restore traditions similar to prewar-era family values centered on the emperor, and to put national interest before individuals’ basic human rights in some cases. It was never formally submitted to parliament.
Abe did not make the constitution a focus of the election, but said on Monday he takes Sunday’s victory as a public endorsement for a revision, pledging to launch a parliamentary committee to discuss which articles to change and how.
Founded in 1997, Nippon Kaigi has strived to revise the constitution to restore traditional gender roles, increase imperial worshipping and put public interest before individuals. The group is believed to be behind Abe’s comeback in 2012 and has become increasingly influential.
Their grass-roots movement backed by Shinto shrines and other new religious groups has a growing membership that reportedly includes many of Abe’s Cabinet ministers and hundreds of national and local lawmakers.
The organization holds lectures and other events to spread its views and defends Japan’s wartime atrocities while accusing China and South Korea of lying or exaggerating their suffering. It also believes the U.S. postwar occupation brainwashed Japanese with guilt and that education since the war was self-degrading.
Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mari-yamaguchi
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