LDP produces manga to make case for constitutional revision


Staff Writer

The Liberal Democratic Party has published a new manga targeted at younger voters that argues the pacifist Constitution should be revised because it was hastily written in just eight days — by foreigners.

The comic book, released late last month and entitled “Honobono Ikka no Kenpo Kaisei tte Nani” (“The Honobono (Warm) Family Asks: What are Constitutional Revisions?”), calls into question the usefulness of a Constitution written by Americans whose main purpose, it says, was to “make Japan powerless” 70 years ago.

At one point in the story, the characters, initially unaware of the charter’s origin, hear the story of its creation and lament Japan continuing as a “defeated nation.”

“It’s as if our neighbors are making the rules for our house,” one character says.

The manga is divided into four separate story lines and begins with a section entitled “Why Revise the Constitution?” The two sections that follow explain some of the ramifications of revising the charter, and how a public referendum on the issue would work. The final section is entitled “Let’s Think About It Together.”

In the referendum section, the characters compare the Constitution with the charters of other nations, including that of World War II ally Germany.

They are startled to learn that while their Constitution has not been amended once in its 70-year existence, Germany has revised its basic law 60 times, France has changed its Constitution 27 times, South Korea’s has seen nine changes and the U.S. has revised its Constitution six times over the same period.

In making the comparisons, the comic contends that Japan faces the world’s most onerous process in changing its charter.

To amend the Constitution, a proposed change must first be approved by a supermajority of two-thirds in both chambers of the Diet. It must then be put to a public referendum subject to a simple majority of votes cast.

But in comparing the processes of some other nations, the manga falters, as at least two countries — Spain and South Korea — employ similar rules for revising their documents. Others — including the U.S. — have stringent rules when it comes to constitutional reform.

After discussing numerous potential areas of revisions, the comic’s only female character notes a sense of unease about making many changes. An older male character attempts to reassure her.

“There seem to be a lot of countries who have made changes to match the current era,” he says, consulting what appears to be a smartphone. “But it doesn’t look like there has been much obvious trouble.”

Another older character later chimes in, “Precisely because the Constitution is special, we must carefully debate needed changes.”

By releasing a comic book that addresses the complicated issue of constitutional revision in a way that is engaging and easy for younger readers to understand, the LDP appears to be moving to turn such voters into backers of its proposed constitutional reforms.

Establishing a foundation of support among young voters could be key in any future referendum on such changes, as the Diet appears certain to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 in 2018.

The manga was created on the orders of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also serves as LDP president, according to media reports citing government sources.

The LDP plans to print 50,000 copies of the 64-page comic book and distribute it via party lawmakers and local assembly members.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Sometimes wonder if Delicate Abe might have escaped from a comic book himself. “Changing the Constitution is an important decision. What little youth we have left can be sent overseas to fight and die for all kinds of stupid reasons, so let’s explain why sending your sons and husbands off to die is okay by publishing a comic book.”

    The Honobono Family in this story can’t be overly bright since they weren’t aware they were living in a “defeated nation” until they were told about it. Let’s hope that the non pen and ink people of Japan show a little more intelligence.

  • y2k3000

    I wonder if they’ll have a manga explaining about comfort women?

  • Stephen Kent

    I know manga is popular in Japan and that it’s often used to convey information to the public, but using a comic that (judging by the cover and the description in this article) would seem to be more appropriate for a ten year-old rather than a young adult surely trivialises a significant issue that could ultimately end up with the constitution being changed to enable the dispatch of young Japanese adults to take part in military operations overseas.

    If the comic even vaguely reflected reality, the Honobo family would probably live in a fairly shabby, poorly insulated, and ageing house which was too small to comfortably accommodate the people living in it. The family itself might be comprised of an exhausted salaryman close to retirement age and his wife who, despite being in her mid-sixties, is run off her feet every day looking after both her own parents and her husband’s 90 year old father who she would like to put into a care home but can’t because there aren’t enough facilities and it’s too expensive (this grandfather experienced the second world war, but he has never really talked about it because it’s a bit of a taboo). Also living in the house might be the couple’s unmarried son who is in his mid- to late-thirties and lives from paycheck to paycheck doing temporary work as there aren’t many permanent jobs going these days. To add to the mother’s workload, their thirty-something daughter might bring her young child around for the mother to look after as there are no spaces available at the local kindergarten and she is unable to finish work at a reasonable time every day (let alone actually take time off) and thus has to choose between looking after her kid or keeping her job and future career prospects. Then, if all these exhausted people happened to be in the same room together watching the TV and the subject of constitutional revision come up, the conversation might go something like:

    “Did you see on the news that they are talking about changing Article 9 of the constitution?”
    “No, I don’t really have time to read the news or watch TV usually”
    “I did – all the papers seem to think it’s a good idea and the man on the news said that the government said it was important because of terrorists and China or something”
    “There was one man on the TV a couple of weeks ago who said he disagreed with the government, but I haven’t seen him since”
    “Oh look, a cooking program.”

    They would all then sit and watch the TV, each of them knowing that the problems that they faced most often in their daily lives had nothing to do with the constitution, but that it was going to be changed anyway.

  • xperroni

    The damming part is that a lot of their arguments seem reasonable. Japan’s current constitution did get written rather hastily, and it did receive significant input from foreign representatives. I only get lost at the part where they conclude “therefore, let’s send our young to fight and die in pointless Middle East wars”, but I guess they’ll address this point in a future volume?