FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 29 December 2015

Japan's Government Has Politicised A Generation With Its Militarism

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Oana Burcu, University of Nottingham

As the Japanese government continues to press ahead with controversial changes to its "peaceful constitution", it continues to fuel domestic protests and fails to get full endorsement from the members of its own ruling party. Prioritising foreign policy while dismissing domestic opposition is hardly a wise course, and Shinzo Abe's government seems not to have fully anticipated the political risks.

Trouble has been brewing for a while, but rose to a new level in the summer of 2014 when a man self-immolated in Tokyo in June 2014 to protest the reinterpretation of Article 9, which was intended to renounce war permanently.

In the 18 months or so since that astonishing incident, Japan has seen a groundswell of student-led social protests in the name of democracy and peace - but the government has pressed on with its programme of militarising Japan's foreign policy.

In September 2015 scuffles broke out in Parliament after another law that could let troops fight overseas for the first time since 1945 was pushed through.

That's a true phenomenon in a country long known for its youth's political apathy. Protests have been drawing crowds as large as 120,000 people, and have fostered the growth of organised opposition groups.

Rise up

One such organisation is Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALD). It originally emerged in the row over the 2013 state secrecy bill, under which penalties were toughened for journalists and whistle-blowers disclosing sensitive information. When the Article 9 debate began, the group started organising weekly protests at landmarks across Tokyo.

So far these public protests are falling on deaf ears. Not only are the requests being dismissed, but the social movement in itself does not seem to mean much for the LDP government.

Chief cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, PM Abe's spokesman, condescendingly played down the protests of August 30 2015, the largest seen so far, stating that the turnout was attributable to a mere misunderstanding of the legislation.

A glimpse of things to come? Reuters/Issei Kato

This response seems surprising given the memories of the 1960 demonstrations, the largest in post-WWII history, in which millions of people across Japan opposed the revision of the US-Japan security treaty on the grounds that it could lead to further war. Ultimately, the US-Japan alliance was further strengthened and Japan's voluntary military, the Self-Defense Forces, was also established.

The social movement ended with violent clashes between protesters and police forces, and it's often cited as one of the factors that led to the resignation of Abe's grandfather, Prime Minsiter Nobusuke Kishi.

In contrast, the current protests are peaceful, but the effect of the public disapproval is clearly reflected in the dipping public support for the government. After a summer of protests, Abe's government rate of approval dropped from 51% to 43%, according to a Japan's national broadcast (NHK) poll.

Wrong track

It's not hard to see why the government has stirred up such anger, since it has poor form on public relations in this area going back some years. In August 2013 the Japanese deputy PM and Finance Minister, Taro Aso, made the truly outrageous proposition that Japan should learn lessons from the Nazi regime's surreptitious tactic of changing the constitution in the wake of World War I.

In a speech given at an ultra-conservative meeting, he stated: "Doing it quietly, just as in one day the Weimar constitution changed to the Nazi constitution without anyone realising it, why don't we learn from that sort of tactic?"

Such statements are not only offensive, but make a mockery of democracy - and two years on, despite mounting protests and a marked decline in the government's political legitimacy, the gap between the public and the governing party is not narrowing.

Recent polls indicate that 75% of LDP members believe "there is no hurry" for pushing through the constitutional revision, compared with 34% who believe "it should be achieved as soon as possible". More LDP members are still not convinced that Article 9 should be modified at all; 43% of the respondents said Article 9 should not be changed, while only 37% support a revision.

The Japanese government clearly has put the domestic dimension of its newly militaristic foreign policy to the back of its mind, preferring to concentrate on the military threat from China. That's been particularly welcomed by the US in particular, but also by Australia and other southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, who are deeply worried about what they see as China's brazen territorial expansion.

With this international blessing and a strong base of conservative supporters, Japan's government will continue to forge ahead with its foreign policy despite major opposition from within its own party and public. But by dismissing domestic criticism while using legal legerdemain to carve out a new security strategy, it's chipping away at the rule of law and the democratic values on which Japan prides itself.

The ConversationOana Burcu, PhD Researcher in International Relations, University of Nottingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Contributors


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Why Long-Run Theories of Profit and Accumulation Fall Short
Brexit - Who Wins and Loses
News Blog
Early Headlines: CB Bal. Sheets Still Growing, GOP Doing Too Much, May Threw Ulster Under Bus, French Election, China Vs. Pollution, Venzuela Gave To Trump Inaug., And More
NOAA and JAMSTEC Issue Seasonal Updates - Winter in Doubt
Over 200,000 People Have Been Displaced From Mosul
Heat From The Atlantic Ocean Is Melting Arctic Sea Ice Further Eastwards Than Ever Before
Number Of Americans Without Healthcare Insurance Has Dropped
What We Read Today 22 April 2017
B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber In Action
"America First" In Perspective
Emerging Market And Developing Economies Account For More Than 75 Percent Of Global Growth
Has AQAP Traded Terrorism For Protection?
U.S. Exporters Could Face High Tariffs Without NAFTA
Which Type Of Debt Drives The Business Cycle?
Robert Prechter Talks About Elliott Waves And His New Book
Investing Blog
The Week Ahead: Build That Wall!
How To Trade Earnings Announcements
Opinion Blog
What Does The Strong Q1 Growth Mean For China?
Marx, Orwell And State-Cartel Socialism
Precious Metals Blog
Three Gold Plays For The New Era Of Chaos
Live Markets
21Apr2017 Market Close: US Stocks Slipped Moderately, WTI Crude Slips On Renewed Concerns Of Increasing U.S. Production, Industrial Businesses' Cash Outflows Concern Investors
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved