UPDATED: At the end, with suspicions confirmed.
Japan may soon rejoin the ranks of the world’s major military powers following Sunday’s election, which ensured that Rightist Prime Minister Abe has the votes to strike the pacifist provisions from the nation’s constitution.
Elections for the upper house of the Diet handed a supermajority of seats to the two-party coalition dominated by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.
The pacifist provisions of the constitution, once the pride of the nation, have fallen from favor as Abe’s government, prodded by the Obama administration in Washington, seeks control over key oil-and-mineral-rich sections of the China Seas.
Washington’s eagerness to contain China has led the White House to back the repeal of the antimilitarism provisions in the Japanese constitution imposed by the U.S. in the aftermath of World War II.
The U.S. push is part of Obama’s “Asian pivot,” policies designed to contain and constrain China both economically and militarily. Another part of the Washington, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, neatly dovetails with the prime ministers economic policies, dubbed Abenomics.
Here’s a graphic on Sunday’s results from the Yomiuri Shimbun:
From the Yomiuri Shimbun:
The key point of contention was whether a majority of voters would support Abenomics, the prime minister’s economic policy package. Another focus was whether the ruling parties and those among the opposition parties and independents that favor amending the Constitution would be able to secure the two-thirds majority of the 242 House of Councillors seats available — or 162 — needed to initiate constitutional amendment. As of 3:30 a.m. Monday, pro-amendment lawmakers were set to secure 162 seats or more in the upper house of the Diet.
As the possibility of the pro-amendment camp securing a two-thirds majority increased, Abe told NHK, “From now, we will move on to research commissions on the Constitution [in both houses of the Diet], and discussions will be consolidated into which provisions [of the Constitution] would be changed and how.”
Voter turnout is estimated to stand at around 54 percent, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun’s estimates, compared to 52.61 percent in 2013 upper house poll. The lowest voter turnout for a House of Councillors election was 44.52 percent in 1995.
Sunday’s election was the first national election since the minimum voting age was lowered from 20 to 18. About 2.4 million youths aged 18 and 19, including some third-year high school students, joined the electorate.
More from United Press International:
If achieves a two-thirds super majority in the Upper House to match that in the Lower House, Abe could conduct a referendum on constitutional change, including military constraints.
Abe wants to change Article 9, which forbids Japan from fighting wars abroad. It was imposed by the United States after Japan lost in World War II in 1945. The constitution has not been modified since 1947.
“This election was not fought on whether or not to change the constitution,” Abe told TBS as reported by Bloomberg. “I think we are expected to debate thoroughly in the constitutional panel which articles should be changed, while understanding spreads among the people.”
The Game of Zones continue to grow hotter, with no end in sight.
UPDATE: And suspicions confirmed
From the Japan Times:
The Liberal Democratic Party’s policy chief on Sunday called for changing the nation’s pacifist Constitution after the ruling coalition won a landslide victory in the Upper House election.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition and like-minded parties appeared to win two-thirds “supermajority” needed to try to revise the post-war Constitution for the first time, some TV exit polls showed, although others only said it is within their grasp.
“Our party is one that calls for reforming the Constitution,” said Tomomi Inada, policy chief of the ruling LDP, after the polls closed.
“Our party has already submitted a draft for reforming the Constitution,” she added.
Revising the Constitution, especially the war-renouncing Article 9, has been Abe’s long-term goal.