Japan Pacifisim Gone?

Via Al Jazeera

Japan alters pacifist stance

Japan’s government has moved to alter the country’s pacifist stance, requiring schools to teach patriotism and upgrading the defence agency to a full ministry for the first time since World War II.

The measures, passed by parliament’s upper house, are key to Shinzo Abe’s push to bolster Japan’s international military role and national pride.

The votes on Friday were important victories for the prime minister, who has suffered a sharp drop in popularity polls since taking office in September over the perception that he has not paid enough attention to domestic issues.

The education reform bill triggered controversy, because of its sensitive content and disclosures this week that the government had planted officials posing as ordinary citizens at town meetings to discuss the measure.

On Thursday, Abe apologised for helping to rig the meetings to give the impression of public support for his policies and said he and four senior cabinet members would work for three months without pay as penance.

The scandal and other issues inspired a spate of no-confidence motions against Abe and Taro Aso, his foreign minister, but they were crushed in parliament, which is dominated by the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP).

Aso had angered opposition politicians, and some members of his own party, by suggesting Japan should hold debate on building a nuclear arsenal.

Last month, he told members of a parliamentary committee that Japan’s pacifist constitution did not prevent it from building nuclear weapons for defensive purposes and that it was capable of building a nuclear weapon but had no plans to do so.

The upgrading of the defence agency to a full ministry passed parliament without significant opposition, propelled by deep concern in Japan over North Korea’s nuclear test on October 9.

The upgrade, to be effected early next year, gives Japan’s generals greater budgetary powers and prestige – a reversal for a military establishment that has kept a low profile since the war.

The education measure, the first change to Japan’s main education law since 1947, calls on schools to “to cultivate an attitude that respects tradition and culture, that loves the nation and home country”.

The reform reflected concerns voiced by Abe and Bunmei Ibuki, the education minister, that Japan’s long stretch of economic prosperity has eroded the morals and co-operative spirit of prewar Japanese.

“The new education law will allow children to acquire a good understanding of their heritage and become intelligent and dignified Japanese,” Hiroo Nakashima, an LDP legislator, said during the upper house debate.

Critics, however, attacked the move as harkening back to Japan’s war-era education system, in which children were instructed to support the country’s imperialist military and sacrifice themselves for the emperor and nation.

Opponents on Friday voiced fears that the changes could lead to schools grading students on their patriotic fervor – possibly as a prelude to making Japan an aggressive nation once again.

Ikuko Ishii, a Communist party lawmaker, said: “The government is putting the future of Japanese children at risk and turning Japan into a country that wages war abroad.”

The call for more patriotism in the schools coincides with a push by some local governments to crack down on teachers and students who refuse to stand for the national flag or sing an anthem to the emperor at school ceremonies.

Sliding popularity

The no-confidence motions come amid sliding popularity polls for Abe’s government which only came to power in September.

At the time his public support stood at around 70 per cent. But in a poll released this week, conducted before the scandal over the public hearings emerged, that had slumped to 42 per cent.

Voters have expressed worries over Abe’s handling of the economy and his approach to foreign policy, particularly in the wake of North Korea’s test.

Interesting I think. One of the few countries in the world that does not have offensive capalities. Which is unique, I believe, among developed countries. Not sure where i stand on this, as the world is becoming more and more polarised.

Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

One thought on “Japan Pacifisim Gone?”

  1. It’s amazing to think the Japanese were ever able to enter an age of pacifism after killing 300,000 civilian Chinese (1930’s invasion; who were at the time, pacifists!), imprisoning British, American and Chinese in concentration camps (1941-45 per. movie ‘Emperor of the Sun’). I have a hard time trusting the Japanese still, even today. In the Western world we give China a hard time being a Communist nation with few civil rights for it’s people, but China’s never gone on mass kill sprees. Traditionally the Japanese have always been more ruthless. It’s a government and cival national mentality. Have they ever really lost it? Does a cat ever really forget how to survive if it’s hungry?

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