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Pro-Yasukuni Dietmembers become increasingly active under the Abe Cabinet


    Upon entering a meeting room in the Dietmembers Office Building on May 17, Nakagawa Shoichi, Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council chair, exclaimed, gWhat distinguished members you all are!h


   At the inaugural meeting of the gParliamentary Group to Promote Value-Oriented Diplomacyh that supports Prime Minister Abe Shinzofs diplomacy, key members of the Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi) Dietmembersf Council, the hard core of the rightist pro-Yasukuni Shrine force, were in attendance.


   Nakagawa is the councilfs acting chair and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shimomura Hakubun, who appeared late at the meeting, is the councilfs former secretary general.


   In the gValue-Oriented Diplomacyh group, Furuya Keiji, the Japan Conference Dietmembersf Council vice chair, assumed the chair, and Hagiuda Koichi, the council secretary general, assumed the post as secretary general. Furuya and Hagiuda also serve as the chair and secretary general of the gPreparatory Committee to Promote Enactment of a New Constitution,h a parliamentary group composed of LDP and Democratic Party Dietmembers affiliated with the Japan Conference.


   Prime Minister Abe in his policy speech in January stressed the importance of gstrengthening partnerships with countries that share the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights and rule of lawh as a pillar of his diplomacy, and mentioned India and Australia as two such countries.


   gSuch values can be a very powerful force to take the offensive in dealing with China, since China lacks them.h As a pro-Yasukuni force pundit put it, they attach importance to such gvalue-oriented diplomacyh in countering China concerning historical questions.


   The new parliamentary group sought to thwart Chinese moves by stating in its prospectus, gIt is an undeniable fact that some countries are taking a dangerous path to achieve external hegemony.h


   At the inaugural meeting, Furuya said, gChina does not share common values. We must take a hard look at their true intention veiled under their smile diplomacy.h


   At the same time, Furuya said, gDiplomacy is the way in which we will address our concerns. Another aim (of the Dietmembersf group) is to put into practice the true conservatism that lies at the bottom of these values.h


   Citing the issues of the Imperial Household Law, prime ministerial visits to Yasukuni Shrine, and enactment of the bill to establish procedures for constitutional revision, Furuya said, gConcerning issues that have direct bearing on our ideas, we will gather together comrades sharing the same values and act quickly.h


   gWith the enactment of the new education law and the constitutional revision procedure law, the Abe Cabinet has produced concrete results. I really feel that the prime minister is taking an initiative based on his own ideas. Our mission is to give him full support in the Diet,h Furuya added.


   In November 2006, Prime Minister Abe readmitted to the LDP Furuya and five other members of this parliamentary group who had been ousted due to their opposition to a bill to privatize the postal services. At that time, Japan Conference parliamentary groups became less active because their leading members had assumed key posts in the Abe Cabinet and the LDP. Now, these Dietmembers readmitted to the LDP are reinvigorating the Japan Conference parliamentary groups.


   The pro-Yasukuni force also took the lead in setting up a framework of suppressing the freedom of expression in the constitutional revision procedure law (national referendum law).


   In their consultations on revising the procedure bill, the ruling parties and the Democratic Party agreed to not apply the Public Servant Law banning public employees from taking part in political activities to campaigns concerning national referendums on constitutional revision.


   However, the LDP suddenly decided to restore the application of the Public Service Law in violation of the agreement.


   On the previous day, March 26, the Japan Conference parliamentary group members rushed to a meeting of a LDP panel on the bill chaired by Nakagawa that was supposed to endorse the revision of the bill. gHow can we allow local government employeesf unions and teachersf unions to campaign against revision of the Constitution?h they shouted.


   On May 3, the Preparatory Committee to Promote Enactment of a New Constitution chaired by Furuya made public a pro-Yasukuni force draft Constitution outline that attaches importance to traditional values and Japanfs national character, deletes Paragraph 2 of Article 9, constitutionalizes the Self-Defense Forces, and restricts human rights under the pretext of maintaining gpublic order.h



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   The Japan Conference Dietmembersf Council was established in May 1997 by more than 200 Dietmembers from the LDP and other parties. As a sister organization of the Japan Conference, established on the next day, this parliamentary group has been calling for adverse revisions of the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education while opposing revision of the Imperial Household Law.


   Foreign Minister Aso Taro served as a chair and Abe Shinzo served as deputy secretary general. As of June 2005, 209 LDP and 25 DPJ member are members of this group.                                  - Akahata, May 21, 2007


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