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Right drive Japan to military escalation after assassination

The right is using the assassination of former president Shinzo Abe to escalate imperialist aggression
Issue 2813
image of former president of japan Shinzo, Abe, waving his hand with the sea in the background

Former president of Japan Shinzo Abe in Hawaii in 2016 (Picture: Anthony Quintano)

Japan’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was shot dead in Nara, Japan, while delivering a ­campaign speech last week. The right wing figure was ­pronounced dead a few hours later—just two days before the House of Councillors election. 

His death may have partly ­contributed to a landslide victory for Abe’s party, the Liberal Democrats (LDP).  In initial counts of the votes, the LDP and its right wing coalition partner Komeito hold 146 seats in the 248-seat upper house as of Monday. The voter turnout was just over 50 percent. 

Following Abe’s assassination, one man, a former Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailor, was arrested for Abe’s murder.  After spending months ­planning the attack, the shooter built a homemade gun from steel pipes and tape.

While Abe’s assassination may have led his party to an election victory, people aren’t united in love for the former prime minister. Abe was prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. He pushed neoliberal policies that ruined many working class people’s lives.

As the pandemic hit in 2020, Abe’s popularity fell to a point where he was forced to resign as prime minister. During his time in office, ­workers were pushed hard, yet their pay stagnated. 

A survey in 2017—conducted during Abe’s leadership—found that staff in nearly 25 percent of Japanese firms work over 80 hours overtime a month, often unpaid.  The neoliberal system made many workers fear that unless they did so they would lose their jobs and end up homeless.

 

As prime ­minister, Abe was always clear in ­pushing a pro-war agenda, ­sending Japanese troops to Iraq whilst boosting nationalism that tried to deny Japan’s wartime crimes. Following his assassination, Abe’s legacy of ­nationalism and imperialism is being replicated. 

Current prime minister Fumio Kishida wants to revise Japan’s post-second world war, so‑called “pacifist constitution”. 

Article 9 of the constitution ­contains the vow to, “renounce war as the sovereign right of the nation.”  The Japanese state has ­interpreted the line in many different ways but has remained unchanged since the constitution was rewritten in 1947. 

This part of the constitution ­prevented Japan from forming an official army. But does currently have a de facto military force called the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).

Before his death and during his time as prime minister Abe ­spearheaded the campaign for constitutional change and to allow the JSDF to exist officially.  Constitutional change, ­significantly altering Article 9, will open the door for Japan’s leaders to push for more war and imperialism. 

Amid the war in Ukraine, prime minister Kishida has already been pushing to ramp up the country’s defence capabilities.  On a trip to Singapore last month, Kishida said, “I am determined to fundamentally reinforce Japan’s defence capabilities within the next five years and secure the substantial increase of Japan’s defence budget needed to effect it.” 

And the push to increase ­military might has also been seen as the Japanese preparing for conflict with its regional neighbour China.

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