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Actor-emcee Kinya Aikawa has his own TV station on the Net, and because the only ads are for projects involving Aikawa and his equally famous wife, Midori Utsumi, he doesn’t worry about making sponsors uncomfortable. The regulars on his talk show, “Pack-in News,” can say whatever they want. Attorney Saeko Masumi made a startling admission during a recent discussion of the voting disparity controversy, wondering how qualified her colleagues are to talk about the issue since the constitution isn’t really taught in Japanese law schools.

If lawyers are insufficiently educated about Japan’s charter, how knowledgeable are politicians? More to the point, what exactly does the constitution mean to elected officials? Last week, an opposition party member questioned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his familiarity with the constitution during a Diet debate and Abe bristled, saying he didn’t like being made to answer a “quiz.” What was significant about the exchange, which received a lot of attention on the Internet but was passed over by major media, wasn’t Abe’s ignorance but rather his arrogance. A recent discussion in the weekly magazine Aera addressed the determination of Abe and like-minded public officials to rewrite the constitution to reflect their own conservative sensibilities, which boils down to a belief that the populace serves the state, so rather than focus on the rights of citizens it should stress their responsibilities.

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