The Japanese people may soon be asked to make a momentous decision in a nationwide referendum. As I write this, the major political parties are at loggerheads over conditions under which that referendum will be conducted. Behind the closed doors of the Diet, but barely touched on in the media, this debate will lead to a decision that, perhaps more than any other, will affect the lives of everyone living in Japan.

The subject of the referendum, which could be held as early as next year, is the revision of Japan's postwar Constitution, specifically Article 9. This prohibits Japan from having unfettered armed forces, and requires the country to "renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes."

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has long sought to scrap Article 9, which they regard as a restriction artificially imposed on Japan by the postwar Allied Occupation. Now the LDP wants to have its cake and eat it too, in the form of a quick, unopposed victory in the referendum with, hidden beneath the icing, military forces then legally empowered to burst forth and fight outside Japan.