Japan Press Weekly

Providing information of progressive, democratic movements in Japan
HOME  > 2014 May 14 - 20
Prev Search Next

2014 May 14 - 20 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Japan could follow path to war: former LDP executive

May 18, 2014
Akahata Sunday edition

Former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Kato Koichi in an Akahata interview criticized Prime Minister Abe Shinzo for trying to legalize Japan’s exercise of the right to collective self-defense by reinterpreting the Constitution. The 74-year-old ex-member of the House of Representatives served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the head of the former Defense Agency (current Defense Minister). He withdrew from the political world in 2012. The excerpt of the interview is as follows:

Changing the conventional interpretation of the Constitution in order to justify the use of the collective self-defense right means the intent to dispatch Japan’s Self-Defense Forces abroad and have them engage in wars jointly with the U.S. military.

I believe that largely thanks to Article 9, Japan has gained some trust from the international community since the end of WWII. Japan should maintain its position of not being involved in military activities.

Sending SDF troops to other countries became topic of discussion even when I served as Chief Cabinet Secretary. If the exercise of the right to collective self-defense is permitted, it will be quite possible that the SDF is deployed to the opposite side of the earth upon U.S. request.

If PM Abe really thinks that the controversial right needs to be legalized, he should fairly and squarely propose an amendment to the supreme law without adopting a sneaky tactic of constitutional reinterpretation. He should follow the principles of constitutionalism.

In post-war Japan, public opinion calling for peace has been supported by labor unions and anti-war groups. However, I think the most significant and influential component of the peace movement is those who actually experienced the war.

Among my local supporters, there is a man whose father fought in WWII. He once said to me, “My father got really upset at night. He tried to destroy things in house while shouting that the enemy was after him.” Another supporter, who also went to the war front said, “It was a terrible thing to kill three or four people in one day.” He committed suicide 25 years after the war by throwing himself into an old well.

Veterans worked very hard after the war to reconstruct the nation. Many of them became the core of supporters’ groups for conservative politicians. I remember one of these people said, “I do not want to see the red flag flowing from the top of the Diet building, but I say to you politicians, ‘Never wage war.’”

As 69 years have passed since the end of WWII, the number of people born after the war is increasing. They have not known or experienced the terror of war. Some of the younger generations, often dubbed the “Internet right wing”, are calling for a more aggressive Japanese stance on national security issues but they understand the war only in an abstract way with no concrete knowledge.

I see no problem in making some changes in the Constitution sometime in the future. However, it is extremely dangerous for us to hastily reinterpret the Constitution. Taking this collective self-defense right issue as a good opportunity, we should squarely hold public discussions on the Constitution.

In my view, it depends on the government stance if our country may go the wrong way. When I heard people saying “Japan should never follow the path to war again,” I used to think it would never happen. But now I cannot deny the possibility. There are no hard-core opposition forces other than the Japanese Communist Party.

We have not learned modern history well enough, and school history classes teach it insufficiently. The need now for us is to learn from history.
Prev Next
Mobile  PC 
Copyright (C) Japan Press Service Co.,Ltd. All right reserved