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    Communists and Social Democrats may cooperate against Article 9 revision

    Considering what happens when communists take it into their heads to get bellicose, this is kind of nice to hear in a way. Unrealistic given the way the world has shaped up of late, but, you know, nice:

    Kazuo Shii, chief of the Japan Communist Party secretariat, submitted an invitation to Social Democratic Party head Mizuho Fukushima to join the JCP in a struggle to oppose the revision of Article 9 of the constitution. The party leaders will conduct a meeting in the near future and discuss what kind of joint struggle is feasible. Shii addressed a press conference, saying “If we can come to an agreement between our parties, which hold Diet seats, we can wield a great deal of power to block the revision of the constitution.” SDP chief party secretary Seiji Mataichi confined himself to telling the Diet press corps, “The Social Democratic and Communist parties are not in a position to make very great headway by ourselves. We’re just part of a more broad-ranging citizens’ battlefront for preventing constitutional revision.”

    How much citizen support the SDP and JCP can actually rally is very debatable. The public is ambivalent on the Koizumi administration’s unqualified support for Bush’s approach to the WOT; at the same time, China and North Korea have been emitting hostile noises with disturbing frequency, and Japan knows that it’s small and potentially vulnerable next to them. Its alliance with the US allows it to be part of a proven winning team, the US has made it clear that it wants the revision of Article 9 to go through, and while the Japanese are proud of the reputation for peaceableness the non-aggression clause has helped them maintain since the war, hard-core anti-war types haven’t succeeded in getting voters fired up against the LDP’s revision proposals.

    5 Responses to “Communists and Social Democrats may cooperate against Article 9 revision”

    1. I’ve been reading you for a while, so I know where you are, what country you’ve been living in for a while, but if I didn’t, I would now. The only place on earth where Japan has a reputation for peacableness is Japan.

      American Japanophiles, including this one, believe that Japan is genuinely a force for peace, but take a short flight to Korea and ask anybody what the Japanese reputation is and you’re unlikely to hear the world peaceable.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Actually, I think you’re wrong there. Japan has played the UN committee/NGO game for the last half-century very well. Korea and China still wouldn’t be convinced Japan was peaceable if every sharp object in the island chain spontaneously turned into a butterfly and flew away–I’m with you there. But that doesn’t mean that plenty of other countries, which have neither the long-standing enmity with Japan nor any living memory of having been subjugated by it, aren’t.

    3. Zak says:

      I don’t know, Sean,I’m kind of with the first poster. My response to Japanese rhetoric of “We have to be a beacon of peace in this this war-stricken world with our Article 9″ is usually a snort of derision. I don’t think any non-East Asian countries care or are influenced AT ALL by Article 9. It’s basically something Japanese people have convinced themselves to be proud of because they’ve had no choice.

      Which is not to say that I favor the country becoming bellicose–I just think the external effects of Article 9 are highly, highly overrated.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      On whom? On rank-and-file laborers in Botswana? Sure. On government officials and commentators and academics? Sorry, I don’t buy it. You can’t swing a dead cat without finding a reference to how Japan turned away from warmongering and toward rebuilding its economy peaceably after WWII. Do they always explicitly mention Article 9? No, of course not, and if that‘s what you mean, then you’re right. Most people probably don’t even know what their own country’s constitution actually says about armed aggression, after all. But the standard what-an-intriguing-blend-of-Oriental-contrasts! line on Japan nearly always includes part about how one of the most fearsome war machines of the first half of the twentieth century beat its swords into Toyotas in the second half, and I don’t think the connection between that and Article 9 is a leap.

    5. Zak says:

      Really? I don’t recall seeing much of that. I mean, not that hinges on Japan not having an official “normal” military. You read the general things like you note about Japan turning from militarism to peace, but I don’t think this hinges on not having a standing military. The same thing is said of Germany, and they have no equivalent of Article 9.

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