Last week, in elections for Japan’s House of Councilors, the country’s upper house of Parliament, parties willing to revise the Japanese Constitution, including Prime Minister Fumio’s Liberal Democratic Party Kishida, secured the two-thirds of the seats in the house needed to pass changes to the Magna Carta.
Two days before the election, former premier Shinzo Abe, a supporter of Kishida, was assassinated, the who left in evidence a flag of his mandates at the head of the Japanese Executive (from 2007 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020): a more assertive Japan in the global geopolitical scenario, with greater military strength.
The Japanese Constitution promulgated in 1946, in a post-defeat context in World War II and American occupation, does not allow the country to have an Armed Forces itself.
In the famous article 9, “the Japanese people forever renounce war as the sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes”, a surrender after the violent Japanese imperial policy of the first half of the 20th century.
“To fulfill the objective of paragraph previous, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The State’s right to belligerence will not be recognized,” the article adds.
Despite officially having only Self-Defense Forces, Japan is one of the countries that invests the most in security. According to figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, last year the country spent US$ 54, 1 billion in the area, the ninth largest investment in the world. world.
This value represented 1% of the Japanese Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but the Liberal Democrat Party wants the proportion to reach 2% by the end of the decade – a level that is a guideline for the NATO countries, the Western military alliance, which would make Japan the third country that spends the most on defense in the world, behind only the United States and China.
To reach this, however, there are differences regarding a possible revision of article 9 between the parties in favor of constitutional revisions in Japan.
The Liberal Democrat Party and the opposition Nippon Ishin want to keep the pacifist wording of the article, but with an addition to clarify the legal existence of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, founded years after the promulgation of the country’s Constitution, in 1954. The two subtitles did not detail the practical effects of this change.
Komeito, who is part of the ruling coalition, wants more discussions on whether this change is necessary, as does the opposition Democratic Party for the People.
In 2015, when Abe was prime minister, the country authorized the Self-Defense Forces to operate abroad for “collective self-defense ” from allies, but as long as it is in response to an aggression that also jeopardizes “the lives and survival of the Japanese nation”.
Regardless of this divergence, Kishida is in a favorable moment to invest more safely. A survey released last month by the Jiji Press agency showed that more than 50% of Japanese respondents want an increase in defense spending.
“If the prime minister manages this , conservatives within the party will migrate to Kishida’s side and he will have a long-term government, without a doubt,” a Japanese lawmaker told Reuters, on condition of anonymity. “Kishida can remain on the throne by accomplishing Abe’s goals.”
Tensions with China and Russia
In an interview with Gazeta do Brasil Povo, military analyst Paulo Filho considered that the moment is favorable for Kishida to promote a change in article 9.
“It is very likely that the Japanese prime minister will be able to proceed with this attempt reform of the Constitution, specifically article 9, to authorize Japanese forces to have a posture closer to the traditional Armed Forces around the world. It was an old wish of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that his party will want to keep”, he highlighted.
The Japanese Constitution stipulates in the article 2007 that amendments to the text need to be approved by two-thirds or more of the votes in both houses of Parliament and then submitted to a referendum.
Filho stressed that tensions with Russia and China justify the Japanese concern to invest more in defense: with the Russians, there is a dispute over the possession of the South Kuril Islands, claimed by the Japanese since the end of World War II, and with the Chinese, of the Senkaku Islands, occupied by Japan since the 19th century.
Also of concern are Beijing’s threats to “reincorporate” Taiwan and North Korea against southern neighbors and the Japanese themselves.
The military analyst pointed out that a militarily stronger Japan would not pose the threat it was until it was defeated in 1945.
“Japan nowadays is completely different Similar to that of the beginning of the 20th century, it is not possible to compare one situation with the other. I don’t see any possibility of Japan aiming for any kind of territorial expansion as happened in that period”, pointed out Filho.