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Getting Rid of the Ghosts in Our Constitutional Debate

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Article Nine (to the edge of left) is seen on the replica of an official original copy of the Constitution of Japan, during a photo opportunity at National Archives of Japan in Tokyo on May 21, 2013 (Issei Kato/REUTERS). Article Nine (to the edge of left) is seen on the replica of an official original copy of the Constitution of Japan, during a photo opportunity at National Archives of Japan in Tokyo on May 21, 2013 (Issei Kato/REUTERS).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. 

Shinichi Kitaoka, a leading Japanese diplomatic historian, is currently the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. He has led various government advisory panels including the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security [PDF], appointed by Prime Minister Abe to consider the legal and policy issues surrounding the right of collective self-defense,  and the Advisory Panel on the History of the Twentieth Century and on Japan’s Role and the World Order in the Twenty-first Century [PDF], a panel convened in advance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement on the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II.   Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 5, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Yurike-election-victory Yuriko Koike (R) and her supporters celebrate her win in the Tokyo governor election in Tokyo, Japan, July 31, 2016. (Kyodo/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Tokyo elects first female governor. On Sunday, Yuriko Koike was elected as the first female governor of Tokyo with 2.9 million votes, nearly one million more than her closest competitor. Although she is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), she ran as an independent when the LDP endorsed rival candidate Hiroya Masuda instead. Koike has previously been mocked for lack of commitment to a given political party, earning her comparisons to a conveyer belt sushi restaurant or migratory bird. Read more »

A Nobel Peace Prize for Article Nine

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
The audience listen as President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso delivers a speech during the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at City Hall in Oslo December 10, 2012 (Suzanne Plunkett/REUTERS). The audience listen as President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso delivers a speech during the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at City Hall in Oslo December 10, 2012 (Suzanne Plunkett/REUTERS).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution.

The following six essays will present various voices that shape Japan’s debate over its constitution and the prospect of revising it. Contributing their views are: Naomi Takasu, an advocate of protecting the constitution and of nominating Article Nine for the Nobel Peace Prize; Shinichi Kitaoka, a leading Japanese diplomatic historian who served as the vice chairman of the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security, a panel convened by the Abe cabinet to consult before it passed a cabinet resolution on the right of collective self defense; Karin Koretsune, a graduate student of Japan Women’s University and a member of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs); Keigo Komamura, a constitutional law scholar and vice president of Keio University; and Masatoshi Asaoka and Ayumi Teraoka, intern and research associate for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Japanese Public Opinion on Constitutional Revision in 2016

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
School girls pose for a selfie in the trendy Harajuku district in Tokyo, Japan, November 11, 2015 (Toru Hanai/REUTERS).  School girls pose for a selfie in the trendy Harajuku district in Tokyo, Japan, November 11, 2015 (Toru Hanai/REUTERS). 

This blog post is co-authored by Masatoshi Asaoka and Ayumi Teraoka, an intern and a research associate for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Read more »

Early Postwar Attitudes on Constitutional Revision

by Sheila A. Smith and Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Option-C-Japanese_family_me

This blog post is co-authored with Ayumi Teraoka, research associate for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Read more »

Japanese Public Opinion on Constitutional Revision

by Sheila A. Smith
A girl looks on as her mother casts her ballot for Japan's upper house election at a polling station in Tokyo, Japan July 10, 2016 (Issei Kato/REUTERS). A girl looks on as her mother casts her ballot for Japan's upper house election at a polling station in Tokyo, Japan July 10, 2016 (Issei Kato/REUTERS).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Read more »

Satsuki Eda: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
(Democratic Party) (Democratic Party)

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. 

In our final essay by Japan’s legislators, Satsuki Eda, chair of the Democratic Party’s research commission on the constitution, argues against allowing the Abe cabinet to prevail in its effort to revise the constitution. Eda served four terms in the Lower House and is currently serving his fourth-term in the Upper House, representing Okayama prefecture. In Japan’s political alignment of the 1990s, Eda left the Socialist Democratic Federation and after various party mergers, was associated with the New Frontier Party (NFP). He left national politics to run in the 1996 Okayama gubernatorial election, but returned to the Diet in 1998 as a member of the former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Throughout his career, Eda has been an influential voice in Diet debates over the reinterpretation and the possible revision of Japan’s constitution. Read more »

Natsuo Yamaguchi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
(Komeito) (Komeito)

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. 

Natsuo Yamaguchi, president of the Komei party, offers a third essay on Japan’s constitution from the perspective of a national legislator. He has served two terms in Japan’s Lower House (1990-1996); three terms in the Upper House (2001-present); and has led his party since 2009. The Komei Party is affiliated with the populist Buddhist organization, the Sokkai Gakkai, and its members have been strongly pacifist since the party formed in 1964 under the leadership of Daisaku Ikeda. The party split in 1994, with some aligning themselves with the New Frontier Party, but came back together as the New Komeito in 1998. As a member of the ruling coalition from 1999-2009 and again from 2012-present, Komeito has been in a unique position to influence the legislative debate over the interpretation of Japan’s constitution. In responding to my invitation, Representative Yamaguchi agreed to share his personal reflections rather than present the official view of his party. Read more »

Hajime Funada: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
(Liberal Democratic Party) (Liberal Democratic Party)

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution.

This is the second of four essays by Japanese political leaders on constitutional revision. Hajime Funada is also a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who advocates for revision. Since 1979 Funada has served eleven terms in the Lower House, representing the first district constituency of Tochigi prefecture. He served as chair of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution (2014-2015), and played an important role in the Lower House Commission on the Constitution during the deliberations of the Abe cabinet’s new security laws. Read more »

Kazuo Aichi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
(Liberal Democratic Party) (Liberal Democratic Party)

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. 

The next four essays present the views of leading Japanese legislators on constitutional revision.  I invited each to share their thoughts with us, and all four graciously agreed to comment in Japanese. I have translated the essays into English for an audience largely unfamiliar with Japanese politics. For readers with greater in-depth knowledge of Japan, I have included the original Japanese-language essay as reference.

Our first reflection today is by former Lower House Member Kazuo Aichi, a long time leader of the Liberal Democratic Party’s deliberations on constitutional revision. Before he retired in 2009, Aichi served for eight terms (from 1976-2000), representing the first district constituency of Miyagi prefecture, and returned to office in 2005 for his final term. In the Diet, he served as director of the Special Research Commission on the Constitution in the Lower House. Today, he serves as secretary general of the Caucus for A New Japanese Constitution, a cross party group of legislators led by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in support of constitutional revision.

Read more »