Less than a year following the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan’s victory in the House of Representatives (Lower House) election which allowed it to take power in the country, Japan is now facing the House of Councilors election next month.
Now, with a few months of consecutive leadership under their belts, the LDP have made some adjustments to their campaign promises from the previous elections but remain firm on their promise to re-evaluate Article 9, which prohibits Japan from having an army for offensive purposes.
They also will still look into the “Neighboring Countries Clause” which deals with how historical events are dealt with in education in order to foster good relations with other Asian countries. Some fear that such a review could lead to a whitewashing of certain events such as the Nanjing Massacre.
According to a Kyodo News report, the LDP has released its election promises which are largely similar to their Lower House promises but with a few modifications.
For example, in the previous election the party had vowed to make a strong tie with the US the most important move in protecting the national interest. However, this time around a softer promise of “Strengthening the US-Japan alliance while striving to progress in relations with China and South Korea” was made.
Likewise the campaign promise of making a national Takeshima Day event celebrating the disputed island between Japan and South Korea seems to have been removed.
While these moves indicate a softening on the Abe government’s stance regarding Japan’s Asian neighbors, no change has been made for the proposal to re-examine Japan’s military situation in Article 9 of the constitution.
The LDP also hasn’t flinched on its stance regarding the Neighboring Countries Clause. The party wants to investigate whether current textbooks have a “masochistic view of history”. However, undoing the clause could lead to the glossing over or complete removal of topics such as comfort women hired by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
Although those would be more extreme cases, the changes to the clauses could also lead to more euphemistic language such as changing the word shinryaku (invasion) to shinshutsu (foray).
Although these potentially harmful baby steps trouble many in the country, others also support the action. Particularly when this news hit Japanese websites where anti-other-Asian-country sentiments run rampant, several comments came out in support of the LDP’s promises.
In end, however, it’s a time-proven rule that politicians often “forget” the promises they made while campaigning in an effort to rally certain groups in the country. We may very well find after a few years pass that neither Article 9 nor the Neighboring Countries Clause will have even had the dust blown off them.