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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 24 - 30  > JCP does not attend gov't-hosted ceremony praising prewar Japan
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2018 October 24 - 30 [JCP]

JCP does not attend gov't-hosted ceremony praising prewar Japan

October 24, 2018

The Japanese Communist Party did not attend a government-hosted ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of the commencement of the Meiji period, which was held near the Diet building on October 23. The JCP does not consider the history of prewar Japan and postwar Japan as one package. Representatives of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party of Japan were also absent from this event.

More than 300 people, including Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, speakers of both chambers, the Supreme Court chief justice, and many Dietmembers, attended the ceremony.

PM Abe in his speech said that during the Meiji period, "As Western powers were extending their colonies, our country was facing a crisis of survival," noting that Japanese at that time bravely worked to protect the country's independence against the Western threat. He stressed, "Today, being proud of their bravery, we must take strong steps." He, however, did not refer at all to Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula and Japan's war of aggression against China and the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Abe, in addition, said that the formulation of the Meiji Constitution (Constitution of the Empire of Japan) laid the foundation for the "present political, economic, and social systems", describing the prewar regime with the previous constitution as the starting point for today's society.

Saying that the Meiji Constitution laid the present-day foundation is the same as denying the postwar Constitution of Japan and giving the glory to the prewar imperial system. This is in essence what Abe continues to pursue: "departure from the postwar regime".

These 150 years consist of two distinct parts: the part until 1945 ruled by the Emperor with absolute power under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan; and the part after 1945 under the Constitution of Japan.

Under the Meiji Constitution, sovereignty resided with the Emperor and the rights of his "Japanese subjects" were tolerated only "within the limits of the law". In sharp contrast, under the present Constitution, sovereignty resides with the people and fundamental human rights have the highest value. What is more, its Article 9, reflecting the deep remorse over the past war of aggression, stipulates the renunciation of war and of war potential. The basic principles of these two constitutions are completely different.

However, PM Abe in his perception of history does not separate the prewar and postwar era. Such a peculiar understanding of history has been supported firmly by the influential rightwing organization "Nippon Kaigi" and several other far-right groups.

* * *

Meanwhile, inside the Diet building, a rally opposing the 150th anniversary of the Meiji period was taking place with lawmakers from the JCP, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Party, Social Democratic Party of Japan, and Okinawa Whirlwind participating.

JCP member of the House of Councilors Inoue Satoshi in the rally pointed out, "It is obvious that the first half of the past 150 years has negative aspects in terms of history and it is anachronistic for the Abe government to keep its eyes closed regarding the negative history and praise the Meiji system."

Inoue said that PM Abe's mindset comes from "Yasukuni's view of history" beautifying Japan's war of aggression as a war for the protection of "self-existence and self-defense".
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