21:25 GMT +315 October 2019
Listen Live
    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

    Little-Known Political Group Spurs Abe's Radical Plan for Japan's 'Rebirth'

    © REUTERS / Toru Hanai
    Asia & Pacific
    Get short URL
    2107
    Subscribe

    The Japanese Prime Minister, who has called for Japan to amend its pacifist constitution, is member of a little-known political club whose members seek to revise the outcome of the Second World War, Sputnik Japan reported on Tuesday.

    More than half the members of Japan's cabinet, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, belong to a political organization that is little-known outside Japan and aims to revise the post-World War II order, Sputnik Japan reported on Tuesday.

    According to the report, 13 of the country's 19 government ministers are members of Sosei Nippon (Japan's Rebirth), an inter-party political group which was formed in 2007 by the late Shoichi Nakagawa, Japan's former Minister of Finance.

    Nakagawa was a key adviser to Shinzo Abe during his first term in office, and was Chairman of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

    Members of Sosei Nippon pledge to "protect Japanese traditions and culture," "rethink the postwar order," and "protect Japan's national interests and make Japan a country respected by international society," according to a breakdown of the groups in Japan's houses of parliament published in the Asia-Pacific Journal.

    Victory in the Japanese elections in July gave Abe's LDP and other conservative parties two-thirds of the seats in Japan's upper house. In 2014, Abe and his coalition partner Komeito received almost two-thirds of the seats in Japan's lower house. 

    After the latest elections, Abe called for a debate on rewriting the country's pacifist constitution, which has not been amended since 1947. With a large parliamentary majority, Abe's government could potentially get parliamentary approval for such a step.

    Senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) Center for Japanese Studies, Victor Pavlyatenko, told Sputnik Japan that Sosei Nippon has played an important role in the development of Shinzo Abe's political ideology.

    "This organization is an element of Japan's internal political culture, a kind of 'club for the like-minded,' whose members get together and discuss issues and new ideas including new alternatives for development," Pavlyatenko explained.

    "They are active in attracting young people and new party members, and (the organization) contains some nationalist groups which seek to revise the outcome of the war, the constitution, the revival of the spirit of the past and so on. There are also some parliamentary groups which have been formed to achieve such aims. As far as I am aware, (Foreign Minister Fumio) Kishida has his own group, and he is one of the pretenders for the post of prime minister."

    "At one time, Shinzo Abe was leader of Sosei Nippon, and now he is a member of Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), which has almost 40,000 members. I know of at least six or seven such organizations, perhaps there are more. It is difficult to say how much they influence decision-making, but mostly they act as a discussion club, where they test out new ideas even if haven't become law yet. I think Sosei Nippon is one of these kinds of groups," Pavlyatenko said.

    Japan's pacifist constitution was established during the US occupation of the country in 1947. Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allied powers in August 1945, following the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US, which marked the end of the Second World War in the Far East. Japan was then occupied by the US until 1952, while US bases remain in the country to this day and currently house around 50,000 troops.

    Japan's 1947 constitution replaced the constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji constitution) that had been in force since 1890. The current constitution states that the Japanese people desire the preservation of peace, and "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes."

    In February this year, Shinzo Abe called for the constitution to be rewritten because of a perceived contradiction between the existence of Japan's 150,000 strong Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), established in 1954, and the constitutional ban on Japan maintaining armed forces

    "There is the view that (Japan should) address the situation, in which 70 percent of constitutional scholars suspect that the SDF is in violation of the Constitution," Abe told Japan's lower house.

    Related:

    How Can Territorial Disputes Torpedo Cooperation Between China, Japan and Russia
    Heat Wave in Japan Kills 5, Results in Hospitalization of 5,440 Within Week
    No Pain, No Gain: Metro Car Boarding, Japanese Style
    Tags:
    Empire, World War II, constitutional reform, constitution, Shinzo Abe, Japan
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik