Pacifist constitution reform at stake as Japan goes to polls

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc was forecast to win a strong majority in an higher home election on Sunday that would decide whether or not his dream of revising the post-war, U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution might be stored alive.

A voter casts a poll at a voting station throughout Japan’s higher home election in Tokyo, Japan July 21, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Media surveys present Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition companion on monitor to win greater than half the 124 seats up for grabs within the election, presumably strengthening their majority within the chamber.

Up within the air, nonetheless, is whether or not the ruling bloc and its allies will maintain the two-thirds “super majority” wanted to start the method of revising the constitution’s pacifist Article 9 to additional legitimize the army, a controversial step.

“If they lost it (the two-thirds majority), constitutional revision would be impossible,” mentioned Steven Reed, an emeritus professor at Chuo University.

The constitution has by no means been amended because it was enacted in 1947 and altering it might be massively symbolic, underscoring a shift away from post-war pacifism already beneath approach.

Article 9, if taken actually, bans upkeep of a army however has been stretched to permit armed forces for self-defense. Surveys present voters are divided over altering it, with opponents apprehensive doing so would enhance the danger of Japan getting entangled in U.S.-led conflicts.


Abe, who took workplace in December 2012 pledging to restart the financial system and bolster protection, is pushing his LDP-led coalition as the most effective wager for political stability.

Opposition events have targeted on what they name a menace to voter funds, together with a possible hit on spending from an October rise within the gross sales tax to 10% and strains within the public pension system within the shrinking, fast-ageing inhabitants.

“It (the LDP) is the most stable of all. I’m not sure if a drastic change would do us any good,” mentioned Misako Tachi, a 52-year-old part-time workplace employee who mentioned she was most apprehensive about her pension and life after retirement.

“Various parties are saying various things (on pensions), but the lack of concrete plans worries me. Looking at what they have achieved so far, I thought it best that the LDP stays in power.”

The ruling bloc together with the Japan Innovation Party and independents open to constitutional revision want to win 85 seats to maintain a two-thirds majority, media calculations present.

Keisuke Maeda, 62, who runs a leasing agency, mentioned he’d voted for the LDP’s coalition companion, the Komeito.

“The LDP, being such a strong party, is a bit full of itself, and the opposition is not reliable. It would be risky if the Komeito did not act as a brake within the ruling coalition.”

Voter curiosity within the ballot has been tepid and turnout may fall beneath the 54.7% within the final higher home ballot in 2016.

“We cannot change our society just by complaining, and I believe young people who have complaints should raise their voices,” mentioned 37-year-old Tokyo voter Junichi Nakada.

“Although I’m not young any more, I came to vote today to raise voter turnout.”

Voting ends at eight pm (1100 GMT) with media seemingly to name the end result late at evening or early on Monday morning. Official outcomes are usually not anticipated till Monday.

Abe has led his occasion to victory in 5 nationwide elections since returning as LDP chief in 2012, and is on monitor to turn into Japan’s longest-serving premier if he stays in workplace till November. But the victories have been aided by a fragmented opposition and low turnout.

The major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was anticipated to enhance its seats however stay dwarfed by the LDP.

Slideshow (four Images)

Some voters mentioned home points have been just one a part of the image, with Japan and its neighbor South Korea embroiled in a feud over the legacy of the wartime previous.

“I hope that the next ruling party and leaders will be able to take a solid look not only at Japan’s domestic issues but also how Japan works with neighboring countries,” mentioned Noriko Yasuhara, 63.

“Or with regards to relations with the United States, what Japan’s role will be.”

Reporting by Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Additional reporting by Kwiyeon Ha and Elaine Lies; Editing by Michael Perry and Christopher Cushing

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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