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New Analysis: Why Abe defies strong opposition to push for collective self-defense

English.news.cn   2014-07-01 19:10:21

by Xinhua writers Zhu Chao, Le Shaoyan

TOKYO, July 1 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese Cabinet on Tuesday approved a controversial resolution that will allow the country to exercise the collective self-defense right, an overhaul of Japan's exclusively defense-orientated security policy in postwar era.

But the resolution, which came amid strong opposition, is not a convincing choice made by the Japanese people, but only by Abe and his ruling bloc.

Different poll results released recently all showed that more than half of the respondents opposed Abe's attempt to lift the ban on collective self-defense. They feared the move would drag Japan into war.

Moreover, thousands of people took to the streets recently, protesting against Abe's move. On Sunday, a man even set himself on fire close to the crowded Shinjuku railway station, downtown Tokyo, to show his violent opposition to the government's risky decision.

However, these public sentiments didn't halt the dramatic shift in Japan's postwar security policy. This raises a question -- where does Abe's confidence come from? How could he hijack the nation on his way despite the opposition from the public?

There are three reasons that might explain the move. Firstly, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner New Komeito Party claim a majority both in the Upper House and Lower House. The ruling coalition has a virtually free hand since there is no national election until 2016.

Secondly, the resolution got approval after just one month discussion between the LDP and the New Komeito Party, so there was limited time for people who hold different ideas to react. Though public opposition has been growing recently, it is too late to change the final decision. Abe also used this kind of technique in late 2013 when he sought green light for the "Special Secrecy Law. "

Thirdly, Abe has taken advantage of people's expectation for economic recovery to realize his own political agenda. Since the hawkish leader took office again in late 2012, there have been tentative signs of improvement in the Japanese economy under the policy dubbed as "Abenomics."

People fear that government change will lead to policy adjustment, suspending the upturn trend. In this mentality, some of them chose to support the Abe's Cabinet despite its adoption of aggressive security policy. For Abe, whether his economic policies will be successful in the long term is unknown, so he needs to achieve his ambition before any possible economic downturn.

In seeking to change the nation's basic postwar defense posture, Abe has bypassed the process of amending the Constitution through a prescribed procedure, which requires majority approval in a public referendum following Diet concurrence by two-thirds or more of the lawmakers in each chamber. He deliberately chose to reinterpret the Constitution with a single decision of his Cabinet.

It leaves room for speculation that the Japanese government may further "reinterpret" the Constitution for its own needs. Under this circumstance, the concepts of "constitutionalism" and "the rule of law" in Japan would be gutted.

Editor: Fu Peng
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