Monday, July 22, 2013

Abe's Constitutional Revision Refrain

One clip from last night's NHK interview of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo getting a lot of airplay has the PM, when the subject of revising the Constitution is raised, explaining:

"Even after revisions of the Constitution have won the approval of the Diet, they cannot be enacted without the agreement of over half of you the citizens....In that regard, I believe the debate over the Constitution still has to be carried out firmly, broadly and in depth."
It would seem that the Prime Minister is still gung-ho about revision despite the inconvenient truth that the forces of revision failed yesterday to secure the 101 seats they needed for a 2/3rds majority in both Houses of the Diet. The Liberal Democratic Party, the Japan Restoration Party and the Your Party captured 81 seats (65 + 8 + 8, respectively), waaaaayy, waaaayy short of the goal.

Indeed, in the interview, the prime minister pointed out that whatever his feelings constitutional revision, realizing a dream is not a matter of willpower alone:

"As for myself, first of all the subject of (the revision of) Article 96 came out. I have the same thoughts as you of the Japan Restoration Party. In regards to that, whether or not we can achieve the cobbling together of a 2/3rds majority (in the Diet) I would like to go on further advancing the debate."
(Link - J)

Rather than a pledge to keep fighting, the two quotes together sound like the bugling of an honorable retreat. Does Abe have a 2/3rds majority in the House of Councillors? No. Does he have the 50% +1 majority of citizens behind any particular revision? No. So what does he promise? A whole lot of additional talking, with the revisionist parties and with the citizens.

But actually submit revisions? Abe's words may sound bold to his base supporters, telegraphing that the goal is still within reach. However, the awake and aware anti-revision or undecided citizen cannot miss the message: "Sorry, despite my desire and efforts, I do not have the votes for my signature project at this time. I'll be getting back to you as soon as conditions improve."

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