National

Nationalist leader predicts constitutional revision in 10 years

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The head of the country’s largest nationalist lobby group told reporters Wednesday that he believes Japan’s pacifist Constitution will be revised in 10 years and that the country will turn into “a normal nation” thanks to the results of Sunday’s Upper House election.

“For the first time in the postwar period, (pro-revision parties) have occupied more than two-thirds of both the Lower and Upper houses. This is a prefect chance, and the very first opportunity we’ve had,” said Tadae Takubo, chairman of Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“If I was in the position of Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe, I would do everything I could with all my strength” to revise the Constitution, he said.

Takubo, acknowledged however, that “it is rather difficult” to form a consensus on constitutional revisions among lawmakers, even within Abe’s own party.

“In which direction will Japan move forward? That’s one of the subjects of my studies,” said Takubo, a former journalist and now a professor emeritus of international studies at Kyorin University in Tokyo.

To initiate a national referendum to revise the Constitution, support of more than two-thirds of both chambers of the Diet is required. Sunday’s election has given pro-revision forces, led by Abe, more than two-thirds of the 242 Upper House seats.

Japan Conference, which has led a grass-roots nationalist movement since 1997, has long called for revisions to the Constitution, in particular the war-renouncing Article 9.

About 280 lawmakers — or nearly 40 percent of all the Diet members — belong to a group of lawmakers affiliated with Japan Conference called Nippon Kaigi Kokkai Giin Kondan Kai (Japan Conference Diet Member Discussion Society).

The affiliated group is a loose network of Diet members, and just how much influence Japan Conference has on them remains unclear.

Still, the lobby group is believed to maintain considerable clout over certain conservative Diet members, including close aides to Abe.

Takubo took the leadership position of Japan Conference in April last year. He argues Abe is just trying to tilt the nation away from “the extreme left” and to “the center” of the political spectrum, not from the center to the extreme right, as many people believe.

“The Japanese Constitution doesn’t have an article that defines a military. If you try to (revise it) to create some provisions for a military force, just like those of other ordinary countries, such a move is called ‘militarism,’ ” Takubo said.

“Prime Minister Abe is a politician who is trying to make Japan a normal country,” Takubo maintained.

Japan Conference has long argued the country should attach greater importance to traditional values such as veneration of the Emperor, the importance of family bonds and emphasizing moral education for children.

The lobby group has also called for a stronger military to defend the nation against threats from China and North Korea.

Many key members of Japan Conference claim that World War II was a war of self-defense waged by Japan against the United States and European countries, not a war of aggression.

Asked about his views of World War II, Takubo would only say he believes “some parts of Japan’s war were wrong and other parts were right.”

The same can be said about the war for the United States, according to Takubo. “Each country has its own view of history,” he said, adding, “We cannot say one party is completely right, or completely wrong.”