Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Augustinian Timetable?

Having appointed Komatsu Ichiro to the position of head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has set the stage for a significant expansion of Japan's capacity to participate in security actions on the behalf of the government personnel of other nations, even unto full-throated collective security.

However, when asked by journalists in New York about Japan's timetable for participation in collective security arrangements, Mr. Abe demurred:

一方、首相は行使容認に向けた憲法解釈変更について「時期を設定するつもりは今はない。国民的に理解が進むよう努力する」との考えを示した。

On the one hand, as regards a reinterpretation of the constitution looking toward participation in security actions, the prime minister said, "I am not here to set up timetables. I will work hard on pushing forward a popular understanding [of the changes]."

(Link - J)
According to other news reports, the PM's plan is to not even start a public debate on reinterpretation of the constitution until the new year. (Link - J)

Hmmmm. I hope he did not say this to his friends at the Hudson Institute.

For a guy supposedly chomping at the bit, eager to have Japan bust out and become a major military player, obsessed with getting the country over a hump it has been sizing up for thirty years now (debating the rightness or wrongness of collective security to death in the process), Abe-san sure seems to be reticent about pressing the government to get its arse in gear.

It is just like Augustine of Hippo said, "Lord, make us a first rate military power -- but not yet."

6 comments:

Michael Camilleri said...

I interpret this less as reticence on Abe's part and more a recognition that he's going to lose the argument if he has it now. It looks more to me like the old wives' tale about boiling a frog in water. Better to ever so slowly step things up and just get people accustomed to things. Meanwhile, occasional incidents with China and South Korea make people feel increasingly besieged to the point where they feel Japan's pacifism isn't worth the trouble.

MTC said...

Michael Camilleri -

How will a three months delay make a difference on an issue that has been talked about intensely since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990? I accept that if Abe were Koizumi, three months would make a difference in terms of the shifting of public opinion. Abe, however, is not Koizumi -- rather than bringing the public around to an idea through his arguments or the arguments of credible surrogates, Abe delivers faits accommplis with which the public just has to live.

Michael Camilleri said...

I don't disagree with the analysis of how Abe makes decisions, it's just that I think that's exactly what is happening here. Incrementally move forward, never at a speed that is so fast it unleashes a public backlash and then stand back at the end of it and say 'Well, we're here already.'

MTC said...

Mr. Camilleri -

Please identify an Abe II Cabinet policy decision that emerged out of the process you describe.

Michael Camilleri said...

You don't feel as if that's the way the consumption tax hike was decided? I'd totally defer to your judgment on how these things play out (you're certainly paying closer attention than I am) but the tax hike felt like a decision that was made months (years?) ago that was strung out to purely for the purpose of easing people into it.

MTC said...

Mr. Camilleri -

The public opinion polling on the sales tax rise has not moved in the direction of greater support. Nevertheless, the indications that Abe is going to greenlight the tax rise in October. This indicates that the administration never really thought increasing public support for the tax hike was an important goal.