Abe on the High Wire
Japan Wary of Constitutional Change

A week after Shinzo Abe’s LDP passed a measure extending the current session of parliament by an unprecedented 95 days in order to allow for more debate on proposed changes to Japan’s pacifist constitution, the debate is not going in Abe’s favor. Reuters:

The percentage of voters opposing Abe’s cabinet rose to 40 percent, the highest since he took office in December 2012 promising to reboot the economy and bolster Japan’s defense, according to a survey by Nikkei business daily and broadcaster TV Tokyo. Support slipped three points to 47 percent.

A majority – 56 percent – opposed Abe’s plan to end a self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, or militarily aiding a friendly country under attack, a move that could allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since Tokyo’s defeat in World War Two 70 years ago.

Echoing other surveys, the poll showed 81 percent feel the government’s explanation for the change has been insufficient.

Reuters goes on to point out that the LDP coalition has enough votes to ram the bill through parliament, but is hesitating due to the wretched poll numbers. What happens in September if the polls stay stubbornly low is anyone’s guess.

One thing is for certain: China would do well to keep its aggressive moves to a minimum this summer if it hopes to keep Japan out of the game. The Japanese leadership is already concerned enough about what China has been up to. Any headline-grabbing shenanigans in the South or especially the East China Seas are sure to be latched onto by Abe to prove that Japan has got to step up in the 21st century.

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