Thursday, October 9, 2008

"Koizumi's misinterpretation of the Constitution leaves a sense of shame

"Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has announced his retirement from politics. I cannot quite figure out what his true intentions are -- does he want to have his son succeed him while his influence is still visible, or does he just sense that it is time to quit, or is it yet some other reason?

"In the upcoming general election, both ruling and opposition parties are expected to argue about the demerits of reforms led by Koizumi. Since he retained a long-term administration, it certainly had merits and demerits. But I want to talk about another disgraceful issue.

"As I was recently re-reading a book by journalist and Akutagawa Award laureate Yo Henmi titled "Ima Koko ni Arukoto no Haji" ("The Shame of Existing Here") published by the Mainichi Newspapers, it dawned on me that an offense against the Constitution had been committed.

"It was on Dec. 9, 2003. Koizumi, then prime minister, held a press conference to explain Japan's dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq. He stressed that Japan is expected by the international community to perform activities that are in line with the principles of the Constitution.

"What Henmi is furious about most -- calling it "the biggest stigma after the war" -- is that Koizumi skipped an important paragraph in the preface of the Constitution and instead only read out the latter part that said, "We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society."

""He dared to tell the world the spirit of the pacifist Constitution with an inaccurate interpretation," Henmi fumes in his book.

"The author also directs his criticism at the media. "Was there any reporter who questioned Koizumi over his remarks?"

"If I were there at the press conference, I also would have let his remarks pass.

"Looking back now, it really strikes me that rather than destroying the old Liberal Democratic Party as he pledged, Koizumi actually destroyed the Constitution. In fact, the Nagoya High Court acknowledged in April this year that the aerial transportation activities of the Air Self-Defense Force in Iraq violated Article 9 of the Constitution.

"Watching Junichiro Koizumi leaving Japan's political hub of Nagatacho makes me realize my own shame."

By Chikahiro Hiroiwa (10/8/2008), Mainichi Shimbun, Link to article (last visited 10/9/2008)

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