National / Politics

LDP produces manga to make case for constitutional revision

by Jesse Johnson

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.