TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc was forecast to win a solid majority in an upper house election on Sunday that could determine whether his dream of revising the post-war, U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution can be kept alive. Media surveys show Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner on track to win more than half the 124 seats up for grabs in the election, possibly strengthening their majority in the chamber.
Up in the air, however, is whether the ruling bloc and its allies will keep the two-thirds “super majority” needed to begin the process of revising the constitution’s pacifist Article 9 to further legitimize the military, a controversial step. “If they lost it (the two-thirds majority), constitutional revision would be impossible,” said Steven Reed, an emeritus professor at Chuo University. The charter has never been amended since it was enacted in 1947 and changing it would be hugely symbolic, underscoring a shift away from post-war pacifism already under way.
Article 9, if taken literally, bans maintenance of a military but has been stretched to allow armed forces for self-defense. Surveys show voters are divided over changing it, with opponents worried doing so would increase the risk of Japan getting entangled in U.S.-led conflicts. (Agencies)