Japan Split Over Revision to Pacifist Constitution

In this Thursday, May 1, 2014, guests and audience stand as they listen to the Japanese national anthem at a meeting of a pro-constitution amendment group in Tokyo. Japan is marking the 67th anniversary of its postwar constitution on May 3, 2014 with growing debate over whether to revise the war-renouncing document. Prime Minister Shinzo Abeís ruling conservative party has long advocated revision but been unable to sway public opinion. Now he proposes that the government reinterpret the constitution so it can loosen the reins on its military without having to win approval for constitutional change. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan marked the 67th anniversary of its postwar constitution Saturday with growing debate over whether to revise the war-renouncing charter in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for an expanded role for the military.

The ruling conservative party has long advocated revision but been unable to sway public opinion. Now Abe is proposing that the government reinterpret the constitution to give the military more prominence without having to win public approval for the revisions.

His push, backed by the U.S. which wants Japan to bear a greater burden of its own defense, has upset the liberals who see it as undermining the constitution and democratic processes.

Hundreds of people gathered at a Tokyo rally commemorating Constitution Day, a national holiday.

Japan’s pacifist charter is at stake, organizer Ken Takada said: “We citizens must stand up, take action and raise our voice to stop Abe, or this country could return to a Japan that wages war with Asia as it has done before.”

Written under U.S. direction after World War II, the 1947 constitution says the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation” and that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

That ban has been relaxed over the years, with U.S. encouragement as the Cold War unfolded and America sought allies in Asia, allowing Japan to have a military to defend itself, dubbed a Self-Defense Force. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Sets Sights on Strengthening South China Sea Surveillance

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Members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces during a drill

TOKYO — Jonathan Soble writes:  For years, the sole armed force protecting Japan’s westernmost inhabited territory – the sleepy island of Yonaguni, population 1,500 – has been two police officers.

That will soon change: a new military radar base is to be completed on the island in two years’ time, guarded by 100 members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, a development that has divided islanders while underscoring Tokyo’s increasingly tough-minded security policy.

On Saturday, Itsuki Onodera, defence minister, will travel to the island, which lies 2,000 miles southwest of Tokyo and a stone’s throw from Taiwan, to break ground on the base. When it is completed in 2016, its radar will give Japan a clearer view of Chinese ship and aircraft movements in the South China Sea, including around islands whose ownership is disputed by Tokyo and Beijing.

“We are determined to protect Yonaguni, which is part of the precious territory of Japan,” Mr Onodera told reporters this week, saying the SDF deployment belonged to a broader effort to “strengthen surveillance of the southwestern region”.

That effort has been under way for several years, as Japanese military planners shift their focus away from their cold war adversary Russia – just off Japan’s far north – to China, which has been rapidly modernising its military and challenging Japanese control of the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Daioyu in China.

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Elusive Equality: Rhetoric Not Enough for Japan’s Working Women

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be keen to tout Japan’s untapped labor force, but will he go beyond the rhetoric?

Heenali Patel writes:  “I used to be a helicopter pilot, I loved it. But since having a child I quit. I don’t think I will work again for a long time.”

I am at a local center, where residents may to socialize and host events. A group of women sits before me. We have been discussing their interests and aspirations for an hour. I look around at them, and see engaging and sociable individuals. They all share two things in common: each went to university and each quit their jobs after having a child. Although it is all well and good to choose family over career, the predictability of the career paths of these women is unsettling. Here, they treat it as part of a standard expectation. A working lifestyle in Japan is not compatible with motherhood, or so these women have been led to believe.

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Mad Men’s Abe Drexler: Radical Left-Wing Proto-Terrorist?

Abe’s predictable leftist sympathies, bummed-out personality, grievance-nursing temperament, and lack of any discernible talent make him extraordinarily well-suited for lasting success in the Obama era.

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If you’ve ever listened to Mad Men’s Abe Drexler spin out one of his tiresome anti-Capitalist-Pig rap sessions, you’ll know his only purpose in life is to be a walking cliche of 1960’s radicalism. 

A few highlights from a recent episode:

Here’s Abe passionately defending the criminal youths who mugged him.

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“Those kids have no other recourse in this system!”

Here’s Abe romanticizing violent revolution and expressing his contempt for law enforcement. 

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Abe: “This is a f#&!@king police state! And we’re gonna have to fight, okay? They did it in Prague, they did it in Paris, and believe it or not, we’re gonna have to do it here, too!”  

Peggy: “But that doesn’t mean protecting criminals”

Abe: “It’s fascinating, the attitudes I’m encountering! But why would you side with the cops?” 

Abe’s revolutionary sentiments and unrealized destructive urges point clearly to his true direction in life. Left-Wing Radical, welfare recipient, possible drug addict, failed writer, violent Weather Underground member and Bill Ayers associate, Viet Nam War protestor, and eventually, bomb-making terrorist, fugitive from justice, Federal prisoner, University professor, book author, ghost-writer, informal White House policy advisor, and celebrated cultural icon.

Any one of Abe’s speeches are just minor variations on one theme: “Stick it to the Man”. Even if Peggy–the loyal, patient, ghetto-apartment-building-owning-girlfriend— is “The Man”.

Peggy, the Madison Avenue advertising copywriter who’s been supporting Abe’s sorry ass, while he writes a column for an underground newspaper. Abe glamorizes his heroic role, as the tolerant and enlightened minority advocate in their crime-plagued ghetto neighborhood. When attacked and beaten by neighborhood youths, Abe spouts guilty-white-liberal excuses for the disadvantaged and downtrodden, nobly defending the gang who just smashed their apartment window. Making Peggy’s domestic life a hellish nightmare.

As it turns out, Peggy sticks it to Abe, when trying to defend herself from a perceived late-night threat from neighborhood gangs, in their dark apartment, only to get spooked and injure Abe, accidentally knifing him in the belly with an improvised home-defense weapon (what appears to be a kitchen knife duct-taped to a broomstick) giving Abe an opportunity to see her–literally–as the enemy. And in the ambulance, on the way to the emergency room, he tells her. Revealing his bottled-up resentments, accusing Peggy of symbolizing everything he detests in our unjust society, Abe breaks up with her. All we can say is…lucky her.

Now that he’s exiting Peggy’s life, as she prepares to sell off the apartment building, and dissolve their unholy union, where will Abe Drexler end up?  And further down the road, long after the 1960s Mad-Men era is over, what becomes of a radical dude like Abe? What does his future look like?

Abe’s predictable leftist sympathies, pro-revolution tendencies, bummed-out personality, grievance-nursing temperament, and lack of any discernible talent, make him extraordinarily well-suited for lasting success in the Obama era.

As a civil rights activist, future-welfare-check-cashing malcontent, stringer for The East Village Other, or part-time writer for Rolling Stone, then acid-dropping vagabond, war-protesting, pipe-bomb-making cop-killing terrorist, and fugitive, Abe can look forward to being a book author, lecturer, gray-haired OWC organizer-advocate, on-air correspondent, or maybe even a Mainstream Network News Director. Or perhaps even a post-Federal-prison-sentence-serving Columbia University professor.

He may not know it yet, but Abe could have a very promising future.

–The Butcher