Japan’s LDP Drops No-war Pledge It Never Meant to Keep

My Japanese politics professor once said of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that it is “not liberal, not democratic, and not really a party.” So even it’s name is deceptive.

Like the Republicans in the United States, the LDP has transitioned from conservatism to something like proto-fascism. But what to make of the party suddenly dropping a pledge from its manifesto never to wage war? Perhaps we should give them a little credit: when they do go to war, no one can say they broke their word.

Actually, the LDP has been keeping and breaking promises lately. When Prime Minister Abe provoked a firestorm of controversy last month by worshipping at Yasukuni shrine, he was supposedly just fulfilling a campaign pledge.

But just six weeks ago, party heavyweights forced legislators to recant a campaign promise (to oppose construction of a new Marine base in Okinawa) by threatening them with expulsion from the party. So the LDP’s devotion to keeping promises seems to shift with the wind. Maybe that’s how Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga can get away with claiming, after expunging the no-war pledge: “The content (of the platform) hasn’t changed at all.” The only way that makes any sense is that there was no content to begin with.

Update: An Asahi Shimbun report clarifies the context of the change to the LDP’s action plan. The deleted pledge stated: “visits to Yasukuni Shrine will be carried on with the resolve to pledge never again to wage war and to be true to the principles of a pacifist nation.” Apparently LDP politicians intend to make Yasukuni a regular part of their itinerary, and don’t want to mouth loathsome platitudes about peace every time they go. But they have no problem forcing platitudes on others: they want to add the following to the Japanese Constitution: “The Japanese people must respect the national flag and the national anthem.” Already, teachers in Osaka can be fired for failing to sing the anthem.

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