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Politics of Japans Constitutional Reform - Essay Example

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Last November 2005 marked the 15th anniversary of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is considered as the most powerful institution in postwar Japanese politics. The LDP marked the occasion the released of a detailed proposal for revising Japan's constitution…
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Politics of Japans Constitutional Reform
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Download file to see previous pages Meanwhile the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the leading opposition party, is also developing a constitutional revision proposal. While one considers that the postwar constitution has never been amended, the historical significance of these developments is inevitable. This progress among the country's leading parties comes from the fact of nearly a decade of public opinion surveys which shows that majority of the citizens of Japan are in favor in changing their constitution. Taking into consideration these recent developments, Watanabe Osamu, a Hitotsubashi University professor who closely follows constitutional politics, declares: "Constitutional revision has now been placed on the political calendar for the first time in the postwar era."1
Although the contemporary revision debate includes controversial issues such as the role of the emperor, the reorganization of local government, the separation of powers, and the basic rights of citizens, one passage in particular continues to cast a shadow over the entire enterprise: Article Nine, the famous "peace clause" renouncing the possession and use of force for settling international disputes which for the longest time had been the primary target of revisionist fervor. Article Nine was at the center of the first serious revision debate in the 1950s and controversies arising from its treatment helped to stir up the contemporary revision movement in the 1990s.
There are numerous reasons why many constitutional reformists have long sought to change Article Nine. For some, it serves as an obstruction to the recognition of the nation's sovereignty. This idea comes from the fact that the postwar constitution was drafted under the U.S. occupation, and Article Nine, whatever its accurate origins are, was one of the three nonnegotiable demands by General Douglas Macarthur imposed on the Japanese after the wars. Thus, it is not a surprise that reformists frequently qualify Article Nine as an adjective of "U.S.-imposed." While for others on the other hand, the peace clause is a hindrance to national muscularity. As stated in the article, elucidations of the article's sweeping language have placed limitations on Japan's military and its capability to use force in foreign affairs. Every now and then these constraints have complicated Japan's relationship with its lone coalition partner, the United States, as well as efforts to increase Japanese influence in the United Nations. Lastly, there are some who favor revision because they see Article Nine as a barrier to the honesty of the nation as a whole. Following major reinterpretations in the early 1950s, Article Nine has been continuously parsed in ways both large and small as the domestic and international political landscapes have shifted. Consequently, it may be argued, Japanese security policy no longer mirrors a stern interpretation of the peace clause, and the constitution should thus be brought into line with reality.
These arguments are not new. In fact, reformists have advanced various versions since the 1950s which raises two important questions. First, why has Article Nine survived so long without amendment Second, why has the Article Nine issue returned to the political agenda with such force in recent years
Interpretation of Article Nine
Article Nine is a political manifesto that serves as a declaration of general principle confining state action. In this sense, it is similar to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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