11 August 2014
Japan recently reinterpreted its Constitution to allow for collective defence with its allies. Notwithstanding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strong political position, the subsequent protests and decline in Mr Abe’s approval rating will likely constrain his efforts to amend the limits placed by the Constitution.
On 1 July, the Japanese cabinet passed a resolution in effect reinterpreting the country’s pacific Constitution to allow collective self-defence – the provision of military aid to a country “in a close relationship with Japan” that is under attack. However, there have been public protests in Japan against the move, including a man who set himself on fire in downtown Tokyo. Moreover, by the end of July, public polls revealed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popularity has plummeted to lows not seen since his 2012 re-election.
The Abe administration originally intended to implement the reinterpretation by revising defence laws to allow for the Japanese Self-Defence Force to participate in collective security by the autumn of 2014. However, recent remarks made by the Chief Cabinet Secretary implied that these would instead take place over a year.
Mr Abe’s political position, especially compared to his predecessors, is nevertheless still relatively secure, providing some political capital to proceed with the implementation of the reinterpretation. However, he will struggle with those efforts in coming months due to the underlying dynamics constraining his ambition to amend the limits placed by the Constitution.
… Henrick Z. Tsjeng is an Associate Research Fellow with the Maritime Security Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
IDSS / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 13/08/2014