Japan split on constitutional amendments amid militarization efforts
The Japanese people cannot agree on amending the country's constitution as the island nation braces for massive changes.
A poll conducted by Japan's Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday found that while about 52% of Japanese people think their constitution is excellent, 52% believe amendments are necessary.
More than half of Japanese people support the constitution's revision, according to a survey issued on May 3, Japan's Constitution Day.
At 37%, the ratio of staunch opponents of the amendments is unchanged from the previous year. Since Asahi Shimbun began conducting surveys in 2013, this is the lowest vote in favor of the current constitution.
37% of respondents, the second-highest ratio since 2013, favored the reform of the renowned Article 9, often known as the "peace article," while 55% opposed the amendments.
The postwar constitution of Japan was adopted in 1947, making this year's Constitution Day its 76th anniversary. The "Peace Constitution," which serves as the foundational legislation of the nation and is now the world's oldest unaltered constitution, forbids Japan from taking part in foreign hostilities.
However, the current administration's Liberal Democratic Party plans to amend the constitution, specifically to mandate the existence of the Japanese self-defense forces. The initiative's proponents say that it won't alter the structure of the document because it will merely explain its legal standing and acknowledge the existence of self-defense forces.
The legislation stipulates that in order to modify the constitution, two-thirds of Parliament must agree on the change before it can be put to a referendum of the people.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in September 2022 that Japan persistently hyped the "Chinese threat" as an excuse to abolish its pacifist constitution and return to the path of military expansion.
"China has repeatedly stated its position on this issue. For a certain period of time, Japan has been vigorously hyping the 'Chinese threat' and continuously developing its missile programs and so-called retaliatory strike capabilities, which is a pretext for creating offensive armed forces," the diplomat told a press briefing.
Tokyo wants to abolish its pacifist constitution and return to the policy of military expansion, according to Wang. These actions send a concerning signal to the international community that Japan wants to challenge the global order that was established after the end of World War II.
Prior to WWII, Japan had a long history of military interventions in the Pacific. The enormous crimes imperialist Japan committed against the people of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937-1945 were monstrous, costing possibly between 10 and 25 million Chinese civilians' lives.
These crimes have not been forgotten, especially since Japan has continuously refused to give any real apology for the crimes, provide compensation to the victims, or take a clear stand against this part of its history.
For example, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which pays homage to convicted Japanese war criminals on several occasions.
The fact that Japan never had a “bourgeois revolution” left remnants of the old feudal state in place, the emperor for example.
Within quite a short period of time, Japan emerged as a major economic power, and with it went military might, as it expanded beyond its borders building its own empire in the east.
Since the early 1990s, NATO and Japan have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation, often referred to as ‘partners across the globe – with which it is developing relations, and NATO’s top leadership has consistently described Japan as a ‘natural partner’ over the years.