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


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.

  • 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.

    • 151E

      Sorry, what makes you think Japan doesn’t presently have a ‘full-blown’ military? Japanese military spending is roughly on par with the UK, and outstrips that of India, Germany, South Korea, and Canada. Don’t let the name fool you, the JSDF are indeed a proper military in all but name, held in check by a few illusory legal restraints.

      • A lot of that money goes to pay the United States, and to pay for maintaining the bases that the USA is using. Taking on the full budget themselves, as well as paying for personnel would make the existing costs skyrocket.

      • Paldo

        …..and buy all the useless and expensive left-over weapons from the US, still grabbing the legs of Uncle Sam!!!!!!

    • Masa Chekov

      “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.”

      What weird allegation are you trying to make here, anyway???

  • 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.

    • Ken5745

      Japan’s resurgence of militarism in the 1930s resulted in the invasion of Manchuria, China, colonization of Korea, inhuman experiments in Manchuria’s Building 731 on prisoners of war from China, Korea and USA , the rape of Nanjing and the forcing of Korean and white women to be ‘Comfort Women’, making all of the above into war crimes and crimes against humanity.

      It led to the insane, sneak bombing of Pearl harbor killing more than 2400 Americans and the invasion of the Pacific islands and South East Asia, killing millions more.

      At the end of this futile military activism, about 2 million Japanese civilians paid with their lives during fire and carpet bombings by US planes on civilians. About 2 million Japanese troops died.

      The dropping of two atom bombs (Hiroshima Dec 6 and Nagasaki Dec 9 1945.) instantly killed at least 200,000 innocent civilians and tens of thousands more died later if radiation deaths are taken in account.

      Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration for Unconditional Surrender, 5 days after the Fat Boy atom bomb dropped into Nagasaki, was not said to be a result of this dropping of the 2nd atom bomb but to end the war to avoid the invasion by one million Russians, who already defeated outnumbered Japanese forces in Manchuria.

      The Japanese feared the Russians because under Stalin the Emperor system in Japan would not be tolerated if Japan became a Russian colony.

      Today if Japan changes Article 9 or writes a new constitution to allow war, then another resurgence of militarism under Abe could lead Japan to complete annihilation as a nation if all the 52 nuclear reactors in Japan are blown up during the next world war, making the Fukushima meltdown, already a major disaster, look like a garden tea party. Peace is a better option !

      • Masa Chekov

        Chill, Ken. There’s not going to be a rise in militarism. There’s only one country in the region that’s building up its military capabilities launching new aircraft carriers, threatening their neighbors, and that’s China. Not Japan.

        Go give the Chinese this lecture about preventing the rise of militarism.

      • Ken5745

        Masa, as usual you are a font of obfuscation and disinformation.

        If there is not going to be a rise in militarism in Japan why raised its already high defense budget by 10% when the economy is growing by less than 3%? Why is Mr Abe planning to repeal Article 9 of the Constitution which says :

        “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will NEVER be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” (emphasis mine)

        It says clearly “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

        But in 2012 Japan had an inventory of 150 major warships, including 4 helicopter carriers that can be converted into an aircraft carrier, 8 guided missile destroyers, 33 destroyers, 19 attack subs with a grand total displacement of 432,000 tons.

        In the navy there are 147 SH-60 Sikorsky helicopters, 44 Lockheed PC Orion, 8 Pi trainers with 80 more on order.

        In the air force there are 200 F15 advanced bombers and 42 F35 5th Generation stealth fighter-bombers on order, not counting other aircraft.

        Why have one of the biggest defense forces in the world and more than 10 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, that can be made into 9000 atom bombs if there is going to be no resurgence in militarism under Mr Abe? Enough said.

      • Masa Chekov

        “Why have one of the biggest defense forces in the world and more than 10
        tons of weapons-grade plutonium, that can be made into 9000 atom bombs
        if there is going to be no resurgence in militarism under Mr Abe?”

        Simple – an aggressive China that will have no problem attacking its neighbors should it feel justified. Look at China’s recent incursion into India and violent threats against the Philippines if you feel this is not reason enough to augment defensive capabilities.

        The PRC has made it abundantly clear that they wish to throw their weight around the region militarily and that they still harbor 70 year old grudges against the Japanese. Why shouldn’t Japan be defensively prepared?

        That doesn’t represent a rise in militarism at all, that is merely prudently preparing to defend oneself.

      • Ken5745

        But the military build-up which has been going on quietly for years is unconstitutional as Article 9 of the Constitution says clearly “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

        Looks like if Japan can flaunt its own written constitution as easily as it violated the Potsdam Declaration, who knows what devious plans Japan has under Mr Abe. Another ‘Pearl Harbor’ by the Pearl River perhaps?

        Hope not. Peace is a better option for Japan.

      • Paldo

        1. South Tibet/China was snatched by the colonial British in the 19th century when China was busy fighting JP. When India got independent from the British they got this piece of land….see gregoryclark.net from Australia now residing in JP and a writer for Japan Times.

        2. China owned the islands at least 400 years ago. It was even before or about the time Magellan “discovered” Philippines, which was called Luzon by the Ming Dynasty. The Ming Emperor sent a fleet to the “South Sea” captained by a eunich 7 times up to as far as Africa. Some 10 years ago PH wrecked a ship at one of the islands/reefs. At that time they promised to move it out but so far they did nothing.

        3. For what I know, (I’m not a Communist supporter) the communist China never fired the first shot, be it with Vietnam in the 70’s or 80’s or elsewhere.

        4. In about 1985, I learnt that the PRC soldiers were only earning a mere US$3 per month, can’t even enough to buy a stick of cigarette. The increase of military budget since about 2000 was just to catch up with inflation.

        5. The sale of nuclear power stations to India is indeed crappy. How can you sell things that you don’t even allowed at home. With the poor management and corruption of India in construction (e.g. the 2010 Commonwealth Games) and operations, disasters will inevitably happen.

        6. One wrong move for JP next time, it will be wiped out from the global village completely…..for good, probably by Uncle Sam, not the PRC.

  • 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.

    • Masa Chekov

      I don’t the US should give anybody lectures on fundamental human rights.

      • Chance W.

        The US didn`t try to take over much of Asia while murdering hundreds of thousands and raping millions of young girls and women. A few drone strikes, the Iraq war, and all the NSA crap you can name comes no where close to the genocide committed by the Axis powers. You couldn`t have made a stupider statement.

      • Masa Chekov

        And neither did anyone alive in Japan today. We’re not talking about WWII here, Chance. Please keep it on topic.

        Unless you want to bring up US involvement in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, Drug Wars in Colombia, Panama, Angola, Libya, Afghanistan (80s), Afghanistan (00s), Iraq (90s), Iraq (00s), Serbia, Grenada, Pakistan, “Special Rendition”, support for Suharto and the invasion of East Timor, etc etc etc. I don’t think you want to do that.

        And calling someone “stupid” isn’t very classy, Chance. You should work on that.

      • Chance W.

        I said the comment was stupid, not you. You bring up some very good points, but Japan (a country I happen to love very much) supported all those wars, even if they didn`t have troops on the ground. I understand WW2 was 60 years ago, but Just as the war in Iraq ended a mere 2 years ago, they still happened.

    • zer0_0zor0

      Sounds like you are voicing stealth approval of revising Articles 96 and 9, correct?

  • holmes

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