Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has already taken steps to ruin the Yen, now he seeks constitution changes to suppress freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and to remake Japan into a more militaristic, authoritarian, society.

Please consider Japan PM’s ‘stealth’ constitution plan raises civil rights fears

Shinzo Abe makes no secret of wanting to revise Japan’s constitution, which was drafted by the United States after World War Two, to formalize the country’s right to have a military – but critics say his plans go deeper and could return Japan to its socially conservative, authoritarian past.

Now he is seeking to lower the hurdle for revising the constitution as a prelude to an historic change to its pacifist Article 9 – which, if strictly read, bans any military. That would be a symbolic shift, loosening restrictions on the military’s overseas activities, but would have limited impact on defense as the clause has already been stretched to allow Tokyo to build up armed forces that are now bigger than Britain’s.

Sweeping changes proposed by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in a draft constitution would strike at the heart of the charter with an assault on basic civil rights that could muzzle the media, undermine gender equality and generally open the door to an authoritarian state, activists and scholars say.

“What I find strange is that although the prime minister is not that old, he is trying to revive the mores of his grandfather’s era,” said Ryo Motoo, the octogenarian head of the Women’s Article 9 Association, a group devoted to protecting the constitution.

“I fear this might lead to a society full of restrictions, one that does not recognize diversity of opinions and puts restraints on the freedom of speech as in the past.”

The LDP draft, approved by the party last year, would negate the basic concept of universal human rights, which Japanese conservatives argue is a Western notion ill-suited to Japan’s traditional culture and values, constitutional scholars say.

With Abe’s popularity high and the main opposition splintered, the LDP and smaller pro-revision parties appear to have a shot at winning a two-thirds majority in an upper house election in July. They already hold two-thirds of the lower house.

Sure to Rile China, Korea

These moves are sure to rile China and Korea. It also seems strange how quickly proponents of these changes forgot the lessons of World War II.

Tensions are already high over a disputed island chain in the East China Sea. Japan calls the chain Senkaku Islands, China refers to them as the Diaoyu islands.

The islands are nothing but uninhabited rocks in the middle of the sea, but energy resources surround the islands. With both China and Japan short on energy resources, the dispute is not insignificant.

Might war erupt if Japan makes the proposed constitutional changes and adds more to its military? I offer no timeframe, but it seems like destiny to me.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock