Japan ruling bloc election win threatens regional stability: Xinhua
China`s official news agency said on Monday a win for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s ruling bloc in upper house elections posed a danger to regional stability, with lawmakers who favour revising the pacifist constitution holding a "super majority".
Shanghai: China`s official news agency said on Monday a win for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s ruling bloc in upper house elections posed a danger to regional stability, with lawmakers who favour revising the pacifist constitution holding a "super majority".
Commentaries by the Xinhua news agency are not formal government statements but often reflect official thinking in China, where memories of Japan`s past militarism still spark outrage.
Final counts showed Abe`s coalition and allies obtained two-thirds of the seats in the chamber which, with the ruling bloc`s super majority in the lower house, opens the door to revising the constitution for the first time since its adoption after Japan`s defeat in World War Two.
"With Japan`s pacifist constitution at serious stake and Abe`s power expanding, it is alarming both for Japan`s Asian neighbours, as well as for Japan itself, as Japan`s militarisation will serve to benefit neither side," the Xinhua commentary said.
Forging agreement within Japan`s diverse pro-revision camp on what to change, however, will be a struggle and getting a majority of voters to sign off in a referendum even tougher.
"It`s the first time to have two-thirds in both houses of parliament, but you can`t find any issue on which the two-thirds can agree," said Gerry Curtis, professor emeritus at New York`s Columbia University.
The constitution`s war-renouncing Article 9, if taken literally, bans the maintenance of armed forces. Successive governments have interpreted it to allow a military for self-defence, a concept that Abe last year stretched to allow Japan`s military to aid friendly nations that come under attack.
Revising Article 9 would likely be largely symbolic. Still, convincing the Komeito party, the more dovish junior partner in Abe`s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition, to agree would be challenging. The pro-revision camp might well tackle another amendment first.
One possibility is a clause giving the government more power in a national emergency. That would also spark a divisive debate because critics say it would curtail civil rights.
Another option, floated by the Komeito, would be to add an environmental protection clause, a less contentious step that would nonetheless break the political taboo on revision.
It is unclear whether Abe`s conservative base would be satisfied. "Conservatives see the constitution as emasculating the nation," said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo.
"If I`m in his camp, I`m thinking, this may be my best shot."