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Land of the Rising Gun
Abe Meets Stiff Resistance to Self-Defense Bill

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered an embarrassment last week when three constitutional scholars speaking before the Japanese parliament (the Diet) declared the LDP bill on the country’s right to collective self-defense to be unconstitutional. At issue is the language of article nine of the country’s constitution:

Yasuo Hasebe, professor of constitutional law at Waseda University, was recommended by the LDP even though he has taken a cautious position toward amending the Constitution.

“It is improper to allow for the exercise of the right to collective self-defense based on the logic (of the Constitution’s Article 9) which only permits the right to individual self-defense,” Hasebe said.

The bill, a cornerstone of Shinzo Abe’s push to transform Japan into an active regional power, is also facing opposition from the public, and is now unlikely to pass the Lower House of the Diet by the end of June due to obstructionist moves by opposition leaders.

Abe’s plan to remilitarize Japan is far from dead, however. The LDP holds a majority of seats in the Upper House and its coalition holds a majority in the Lower House. The party is advancing its point mostly on practical grounds. “If we had done as the scholars tell us, the Self-Defense Forces wouldn’t exist, and nor would the Japan-U.S. security treaty,” LDP Vice President Mashiko Komura said at a party executive meeting today. “It is extremely doubtful whether the peace and security of Japan would have been maintained.”

But Japanese “collective self-defense” does have a high final hurdle to clear. LDP lawmakers are considering extending the Diet session into July. Time will tell if an extension will help the party pass its measure.

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