Abe Rants in Diet To Permit War Powers by "Next Week"
June 13, 2014 • 10:34AM

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday demanded, from the floor of the Diet, that the legislature approve his call for "reinterpreting" the Constitution to allow Japan to go to war, without having been attacked — so-called "collective self defense" — by next week, before this session of the Diet closes on June 22.

The Asahi Shimbun quotes Abe saying that "I have a duty to protect the lives and peaceful existence of the people." The Constitution drafted after WOrld War II allows the use of the military only in self-defense.

The Wall Street Journal report on Abe's speech says that Abe directly cited Beijing, as well as North Korea, to argue that Japan's right to join in an ally's war in the region was necessary, due to an "increasingly severe security situation in the Asia-Pacific." They report that Abe raised his voice, to cheering supporters, to hail the patriotism of the nation's soldiers, saying, "Even at this very moment, there are Self-Defense Force troops in the southwestern seas and airspace who risk their own safety to protect Japanese lives."

Opposition leader Banri Kaieda of the Democratic Party of Japan, said that Abe was "getting drunk on his own speech," calling him "a big risk for Japan's security," also pointing to his visit in December to Yasukuni Shrine.

The Journal says that one reason for Abe's rush, is that he wants to revise the U.S.-Japan defense-cooperation guidelines by the end of the year, and he wants the right to join a US war against China before those talks begin.

The New Komeito, the smaller coalition partner of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government, has resisted Abe's return to militarism, but Abe is using strong-arm tactics to force them to concede. In a speech June 10 in Washington, Abe Cabinet Advisor Isao Iijima brought up the likelihood of changing the government interpretation on the separation of politics and religion regarding the relationship between New Komeito and Soka Gakkai, the Buddhist organization which is the core of New Komeito. Under this threat to their very existence, New Komeito on Thursday gave in with only a slight change of wording of the new "interpretation."

Also, Japan is regularly sending military aircraft to buzz Chinese planes in China's ADIZ in the East China Sea, then claiming Chinese aggression against their planes, stirring up anti-China sentiment at home and internationally. There was another such incident Wednesday, after which China's Ambassador to Japan said that two Japanese planes flew within 30 meters of a Chinese plane over the East China Sea. Anti-China ferment in Japan in serious, but nowhere near the hysteria level it has reached in the Philippines.