Outspoken Finance Minister Taro Aso has caused another international stir by urging Japanese politicians bent on revising the Constitution to learn from the way Germany under the Nazis amended the Weimar charter.
Aso’s remark drew criticism from South Korea.
But Aso’s remark, reportedly made Monday in a speech in Tokyo, sounded ambiguous and may simply have been just more sarcasm over Japanese rushing to amend the Constitution.
The Liberal Democratic Party, to which Aso belongs, is seeking to revise the Constitution, including war-renouncing Article 9, so Japan can use the right of collective self-defense as stipulated by the U.N. Charter.
This would expand the scope of military cooperation with the U.S. The LDP also wants the Self-Defense Forces to be renamed the National Defense Forces and so noted in the Constitution.
“The purpose of constitutional revision should be the stabilization and peace of the state. Constitutional revision is a just means” for that goal, Aso said, according to Kyodo News and other media reports.
“I don’t want (people) to make a decision in an uproar. . . . The Constitution should be revised based on public opinions that carefully examined the situation,” Aso reportedly said. “I don’t want (people) to discuss revising the Constitution in a frenzy.”
Then Aso mentioned how the Nazis effectively abolished the 1919 German Constitution.
“(The Nazis) did it in a ‘let’s-keep-it-quiet’ manner, and the Weimar Constitution was changed almost before people realized it. Why don’t we learn from that method?” Aso said.
His remarks are contradictory because while on the one hand he urged people to make a level-headed decision, he also recommended the revisionists learn from the Nazis’ way of changing the German charter on the sly.
The latter may have been a sarcastic comment against politicians bent on revision, since Aso often uses sarcastic, intricate rhetoric when he criticizes somebody.
But South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young blasted Aso on Tuesday.
“Such remarks definitely hurt many people,” the Yonhap news agency quoted Cho as saying. “It is clear what such comments on the (Nazi) regime mean to people of the time and to those who suffered from Japan’s imperialistic invasion.”