Saturday, December 17, 2016

Japan Conference from its own perspective

Japan Conference policy official speaks to the group’s objectives, influence upon Abe government

Akira Momochi
Nikkei, October 9, 2016, p. 12 
Provisional translation for academic use by APP

The Nikkei Shimbun interviewed recently Nihon University Professor Akira Momochi, a member of the Japan Conference’s policymaking committee, on the objective of the organization and its influence on the Abe Government.

Q: What is the objective of the Japan Conference [Nippon Kaigi]?

Some people point out that we are trying to revert to the prewar [regime], but that is wrong. It is also [biased] to label “prewar” as “evil.” We campaign for stopping the rejection of the inherent virtues of the Japanese and for restoring their traditions.

Q: What are the characteristics [of the Japan Conference]?

There used to be various conservative groups, but they had difficulty tapping into the younger generation. The Japan Conference has local chapters in 47 prefectures. We are rolling out “grassroot conservative campaigns,” such as collecting signatures and petitioning local assemblies, and have produced significant results. Recently, more young people are becoming members.

NB: A group of young American progressives with extensive political experience wrote a manifesto outlining how to oppose the Trump Administration. They modeled their advice on the success of the American Tea Party. Momochi's focus on local politics mirrors this manifesto, called Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda: Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen. So much for "unique Japan."

Q: Is your campaign for constitutional revision spreading across the country?

Supporters [for our constitutional revision campaign] have been steadily growing in numbers. The existing Constitution was drafted by the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces during the Occupation, and this fact was concealed back then. We need to revise the Constitution so that it caters to our needs today.

Q: A recent publication points out that the Japan Conference pulls the strings of the Abe government. Is this true?

I want to ask those who make this argument the following question: Is there anyone inside the Abe government who thinks they are being manipulated by the Japan Conference? No. We don’t entertain such an impudent idea either. Those who are behind this plot must be developing the idea of overthrowing the Japan Conference, because they fear the growing momentum for constitutional revision. We have a membership of slightly less than 40,000. Other groups are far bigger than us.

Q: But a parliamentarians’ league that supports your organization is joined by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and many other influential politicians.

Our parliamentarians’ group indeed has many influential people and incumbent cabinet ministers, but this holds true for other parliamentarians’ leagues. We would appreciate the Abe government’s implementing policies we want, but it is not necessarily aligned with us [on every corner]. That is why we struggle. Constitutional revision is one example. We want the government to hasten efforts, but that is not the case in reality.

Q: The statement issued on the 70th anniversary of the end of war contains the language “remorse” and sparked criticism of Abe from conservative critics.

We understand that the criticism comes mainly from pundits who support ideological purity. We roll out “national campaigns,” so we understand Abe’s stance that needs to pay consideration to the reality. We continue to have high hopes on Abe

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