Former prime minster and current leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Shinzo Abe stated over the weekend that should he gain power in next month’s general election, Japan’s Self-Defense Force would be turned into a national military. Speaking on a national TV news program, Abe added that legislation will be passed that allows the SDF to operate under the rules of engagement. Many would argue that this goes directly against Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounced war and restricts Japan’s involvement.
The LDP has proposed Constitutional revisions that include the creation of a national military and having the prime minister serve as commander-in-chief. The party also wants to alter Article 9′s definition of what is allowed under the right to collective self-defense. Current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was also present on the news program, and heavily criticized Abe’s statements. Noda questioned what the purpose was of revising the Constitution, and why the LDP needed a military force that could fire intercontinental ballistic missiles.
It is widely expected that Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will lose the December 16th election and Abe will once again be named prime minister. But Noda still poses some excellent questions, for while Abe has said he is in support of the recently passed consumption tax increase to 8% in 2014, little has been said about how the LDP will address Japan’s real domestic problems, including its flatlining economy, as well as helping those affected and evacuated from the tsunami disaster and cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear plant. Instead, it seems Abe is just interested in pandering to nationalism and escalating tensions that further isolate Japan from the rest of the world.