Kishida called for an early change in the “peaceful” Constitution of Japan

Fumio Kishida called for constitutional reform after the victory of the Liberal Democratic Party in the elections to the upper house of parliament and the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also spoke in favor of the amendments

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that will seek the speedy implementation of constitutional reform, in particular, amendments to Article 9 of the Basic Law, which enshrines the country's renunciation of the right to war and regular armed forces, reports Kyodo.

Kishida made this statement after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, which he leads, won the elections to the upper house of parliament and received 63 seats out of 125 (the party has 76 seats in total; in Japan, half of the chamber is re-elected every three years). The elections were held two days after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

According to Kyodo, after the assassination of Abe, who also repeatedly advocated amendments to the Constitution, there is still no consensus in society regarding possible amendments (Japanese society has been divided on this issue for decades: those who advocate revision of the Constitution appeal to that the world has changed since the end of World War II and Japan needs to provide for its own security, and not rely on an alliance with the United States). Kisidaje promised to continue the policy of the former premier and confirmed that he wanted to intensify discussions on the “decisive strengthening” of defense of Japan.

The draft of the current Constitution of Japan was developed in 1945 under the conditions of post-war occupation by US troops. Article 9 was written to prevent the resurgence of a militaristic Japan. It consolidates the country's refusal of war “for all eternity” as “the sovereign right of the nation”. It also states that the country “will never again establish land, sea and air forces, as well as other means of war.” At the same time, in 1954, the Japan Self-Defense Forces were formed, whose powers were initially very limited. Since the adoption of the Basic Law, no amendments have been made to its text, but the powers of the Self-Defense Forces have been expanded legislatively— This has mostly happened in the 21st century. For example, in 2007, the Japan Defense Administration was upgraded to the level of a ministry.

In 2012, after returning to the post of prime minister, Abe advocated constitutional reform. The politician and his entourage believed that Article 9 of the Constitution, written in a different historical era, was outdated. They insisted that in the 21st century, Japan should no longer have a Self-Defense Force with limited powers, but a full-fledged army, which will receive the right to conduct operations abroad and have offensive weapons. The prime minister explained the need for changes by tense relations with China against the backdrop of a dispute over the territorial ownership of the Senkaku Islands (Chinese name — Diaoyu), as well as the threat from North Korea.

However, Abe failed to carry out constitutional reform. In 2015, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, mass protests began in the country by anti-war activists who opposed the amendments to Article 9. As a result, Parliament expanded the powers of the Self-Defense Forces, allowing them to protect their citizens outside the country and release Japanese hostages in other countries (Japanese hostages, for example, were executed by militants of the Islamic State terrorist organization banned in Russia), but no changes were made to the Constitution.

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Three years later, in 2018, a referendum bill was introduced in parliament to allow the issue of amending the Constitution, including its Article 9, to be put to a popular vote. However, the opposition opposed it, and the draft was not accepted. The country's parliament approved it only in June 2021.

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