Despite his involvement in a series of political scandals, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remains unscathed. And with a firm grip on power, his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has shifted its focus away from economic reform towards conservatives’ long-cherished goal of constitutional revision to allow for the use of military force abroad while increasing executive power at the expense of civil rights at home.
Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s post-war constitution on 3 May, Abe took it upon himself to revise the document. To temper public opposition against changing the war-renouncing Article 9, the LDP has in recent parliamentary deliberations pledged to dispense a host of new social benefits. Abe has also used recurring North Korean missile tests and simmering maritime disputes to create a sense of urgency and prompt public acceptance of constitutional revision before 2020. And yet, despite or precisely because of heightened military tensions, the public remains divided. Many fear for Japan’s post-war pacifist legacy and democracy.
But as constitutional revision remains a long-term objective, the new political order is already taking shape through the gradual introduction of new national security legislation. Three tactical moves help the Abe administration overcome opposition.
Please click here to read the full “Is Abe securing or threatening Japan’s peace and democracy?” article in Horizon Asia by Griffith Asia Institute Adjunct Research Fellow, Dr Christian Wirth and Sebastian Maslow.