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New Komeito chief vows to counter Abe if he tries to change Article 9

by

Staff Writer

New Komeito President Natsuo Yamaguchi said Friday his party will continue to act as a counterweight to the Liberal Democratic Party if the senior coalition partner aggressively pursues revising the war-renouncing Article 9 or exercising the right of collective self-defense after the Upper House election.

“If the LDP shifts toward the direction where the public is wary (such as revising Article 9), we will side with public sentiment and control the LDP” even though LDP has far more Diet members, Yamaguchi said in an interview with The Japan Times.

The New Komeito chief will be seeking re-election to the Upper House next month.

In the run-up to the election, the ruling coalition is gunning for a majority in the Upper House to rectify the so-called twisted Diet. Currently, the opposition camp controls the Upper House, making it difficult for the ruling coalition to achieve its legislative aims.

While New Komeito and the LDP have largely agreed over their political priorities, there are some discrepancies concerning key issues, such as revising the Constitution, exercising the right to collective self-defense, views on historical issues and nuclear energy policy.

Yamaguchi credited Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with toning down his push for constitutional revisions after public opinion polls found insufficient support. But the leader of New Komeito, which is backed by the lay Buddhist group Soka Gakkai, warned against moves by the LDP to aggressively pursue any amendments.

“Our stance is closer to that of the public,” which wants to keep Article 9 unchanged, he said.

Touching on strained ties with neighboring countries over wartime history issues, Yamaguchi admitted that tensions may have been aggravated by Abe, especially his eagerness to replace the sex-slave apology statement issued in 1993 by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

The statement confirmed that the Imperial Japanese military was involved in managing brothels for its soldiers, but there are still conflicting views on whether the military forced females into sexual servitude.

Yamaguchi said New Komeito wants to keep the Kono statement intact, implying Abe’s attempt to replace it would further aggravate foreign relations.

Abe also wants Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense to bolster the Japan-U.S. alliance, and reconvened an expert panel on the issue. Collective self-defense is the concept of a nation aiding an ally that comes under attack.

Yamaguchi said New Komeito maintains the current interpretation that Japan cannot exercise the right.

“If we suddenly change the interpretation, it would harm the domestic and international trust which Japan has forged over the years,” Yamaguchi said.

On nuclear power, meanwhile, New Komeito has maintained that all reactors should be phased out as soon as possible. The LDP is seeking restarts.

While the Abe administration has pursued exporting nuclear technology to such countries as India and Turkey, Yamaguchi expressed caution.

“If other nations desire Japan’s sophisticated nuclear power technology, it could be an international contribution,” he said, adding that adopting low-quality nuclear technology would only lead to serious problems. “Yet, we should avoid giving an impression that Japan is aggressively seeking nuclear exports,” he added.

  • http://getironic.blogspot.com/ getironic

    Forget the moral debate, why would anyone think that Japan can afford a full-blown military? 250% debt to GDP?

    It’d soon be 500% and then the currency would hyperinflate, liquidating everyone’s savings.

    “Yet, we should avoid giving an impression that Japan is aggressively seeking nuclear exports,” he added.”

    But Japan has been doing this for awhile. In the months prior to the 2011 quake and during March of that year, Japan was in talks with Iran to refine uranium. Of course, it’s a mere coincidence that Israeli contractor Magna BSP was responsible for security at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Plant at time of the earthquake.

  • Kojiki

    I do think that Japan should have a Constitution that they created and not one forced upon them after WW2’s time. It’s humiliating and a factor of control one country has over another. Like a well-heeled dog. The US did no such thing to Germany or Italy, but an Asian country is okay to keep at your heels? One that hasn’t been provocative in any manner since WW2, but still seems to instill fear in all others? Both LDP and DPJ should actively work towards a constitution that reflects current Japanese society and have the right to defend themselves like any other country has. Defend, not instigate or cause a conflict, but to defend if attacked, and assist in its own defense.

  • Michael Craig

    If Mr Abe and his Cabinet revise the Constitution more that Articles 96 and 9 and make life for the Japanese people worse, the United States and/or the United Nations should ought to impose economic sanctions against them on the grounds that it will violate all fundamental human rights stated in both the UN’s Charter and Declaration of Human Rights.

  • holmes

    Japan’s sophisticated nuclear power technology? Fukushima was an old American GE reactor, poorly maintained.