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A Constitution Like Air

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Members of the protest group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy s (SEALDs) shout slogans during a protest outside parliament in Tokyo, August 21, 2015 (Thomas Peter/REUTERS). Members of the protest group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy s (SEALDs) shout slogans during a protest outside parliament in Tokyo, August 21, 2015 (Thomas Peter/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. 

Karin Koretsune is a graduate student at Japan Women’s University [Nihon Joshi Daigaku] and a member of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy s (SEALDs).[1] She is the author of Nihon joshidaisei no yononaka wocchi [A Woman College Student’s View of Japan] (2014). Read more »

The Wishes of the Heisei Emperor

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's Emperor Akihito (2nd R) and Empress Michiko (R) talk with evacuees from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, at Tokyo Budoh-kan, currently an evacuation shelter, in Tokyo, March 30, 2011 ( Issei Kato/Reuters). Japan's Emperor Akihito (2nd R) and Empress Michiko (R) talk with evacuees from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, at Tokyo Budoh-kan, currently an evacuation shelter, in Tokyo, March 30, 2011 ( Issei Kato/Reuters).

On Monday, in a ten-minute video, Japan’s emperor spoke directly to his people, asking them to allow him to give up the throne prior to his death. In the closed world of Japan’s imperial family, where the Imperial Household Agency largely manages and represents the family’s affairs, Akihito’s decision to challenge precedent seems striking. Yet he also spoke directly to the Japanese people. Now in his eighty-second year, Emperor Akihito has sat on the throne for twenty-seven years, assuming his position upon the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito, and ushering in a new era in Japan’s history. His reign is called Heisei—roughly translated as an era where peace can be realized—and yet the Heisei years have been full of change—and challenge—for the Japanese people. Read more »

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 »