January 5, 2012
Out of 19 ministers in the newly inaugurated Abe Cabinet, 16 are participating in rightwing Dietmembers’ leagues, displaying an eagerness to change Japan’s pacifist Constitution.
Thirteen are engaging in the parliamentary group of the Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi), and eight in the Parliamentarian Group to Establish a New Constitution. Only three are not members of either league.
The former is a Diet version of the Nippon Kaigi established in May 1997 after reorganizing several rightwing, anti-constitutional organizations which had campaigned since the 1970s for constitutional revision, legalization of Japanese traditional era names, and opposition to allowing the use of separate surnames by married couples.
This group has a historical view which justifies Japan’s past war of aggression and calls for the Tenno (Emperor) to be head of state, the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to be completely revised, and an obligation of national defense to be imposed on the public. Hiranuma Takeo of the Nippon Ishin-no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) chairs the group.
The latter is composed of lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party, the Komei Party, the Democratic Party of Japan, and the People’s New Party with the sole purpose of constitutional revision. The head of the group, Nakasone Yasuhiro, a former Prime Minister, attacked the supreme law as an obstacle to the government recovery works in the 2011 disaster-affected areas.
Commenting on the Cabinet roster, Tawara Yoshifumi, an expert in the trends of rightwing forces, said, “The Nippon Kaigi denies Japan’s responsibility for the so-called wartime comfort women issue and refuses to admit to any past wrongdoing. European countries would label them extreme right-wingers. They now occupy the majority of the Cabinet, and are going straight ahead with moves for constitutional revision. That is the distinguishing characteristic of the second Abe Cabinet.”