Interesting figures in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun this morning:
Q: Shall the Constitution be reinterpreted in order to make it possible to exercise the right of collective self-defense?
Q: Should their be preparations be brought forward on the legal basis for [ having the Self Defense Forces involvement] so-called gray-zone incidents?
Should be 68%
Should not be 13%
Q: Should SDF units participating in peacekeeping activities be allowed to rush to the armed defense (kaketsuke keigo) of other peacekeeper and/or civilians?
Not allowed 34%
Q: Is it necessary to invoke the right collective self-defense?
Not necessary 47%
A remarkably level-headed set of numbers, no? The voters in this poll clearly want the government to have a capacity to deploy the SDF in situations where opponents are in plain clothes but way too much for constabulary forces like the Japan Coast Guard to handle, such as trawler-fulls of Chinese special forces disguised as fishermen landing on the Senkakus. They are also generally in favor of a partial normalization of the behavior of Japanese forces in peacekeeping operations, making the SDF contingent valuable as a military, rather than just a logistics force.
At the same time, the voters are at best ambivalent about invoking the right of collective self defense per se. They are also deeply skeptical about reinterpretation, the Constitutional bugbear that Prime Minister Abe's advisors and councils failed to think through until this year.
The error as regards reinterpretation was one of language and group think -- too few people involved in a discussion of a subject using the same limited vocabulary. For the reformers in Japan's defense establishment, all the Cabinet had to do was interpret (kaishaku) the Constitution in a new way. It did not dawn upon them that to undo a previous determination of unconstitutionality required reinterpretation (kaishaku o henko) -- which only the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment can do.
Meanwhile, on the subject of meeting and beating the threats to the nation, the Chinese air force and Chinese official news organs this weekend sought to regale us with their well-known talents for physical comedy Link) and satire. (Link).
Despite these shenanigans on the part of the powers that be in China which could lead to a sudden to dump the 1946 Constitution, the Japanese public keeps its eyes on the edifice of their democratic form of government and the foundations of the rule of law and popular sovereignty.
Pretty impressive, no?