Japan is proud of its continued history of 2666 years as a nation, but that number is a little misleading. The type of government and who controls it has changed several times during that interval. The most recent change started between 1945 and 1952, during which time Allied forces occupied Japan. Our forces exerted much influence in the writing of the Constitution of Japan. This year Prime Minister Koizumi Junichirou (小泉純一郎) stepped down from his office in compliance with a self-imposed term limit. Abe Shinzou (阿部晋三) was chosen to replace him a couple weeks ago and has already created quite a stir.

A special meeting of the Diet was broadcast on TV. My impression of the meeting was: a chance for the opposition parties to try and make the new leader look as bad as possible before he has done anything. Historically, politicians are slick people who try to avoid giving a straight answer; particularly on a controversial issue. One question got my particular attention. Someone was asking about limitations in the constitution and Abe clearly responded that the constitution is outdated and was written with foreign influence. He believes that the constitution should be rewritten.

Because of the rise in demonstrations by right wing groups, there is some concern about Japan returning to the aggressive path of the first half of last century (which is strictly forbidden by the current constitution). Another attempt at conquest of the Asian mainland seems highly unlikely, but I will be interested in seeing what comes out of these discussions.


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