Friday, February 3, 2017

The Abe Administration and The Japan Conference

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The Abe Administration is a Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference) Cabinet

By Mr. Yoshifumi Tawara, Director of Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, Tokyo, Japan

Originally published in Japanese in the Children and Textbooks Japan Network21 News, vol.111 (12/12/2016): 8-9. Translated by APP Senior Fellow William L. Brooks with permission from Textbook 21.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is an ultra-rightwing politician and an historical revisionist. His administration is an ultra-rightwing cabinet. In his third reshuffled cabinet, 16 ministers (80 percent; or 85 percent if Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ishii of the Komeito is excepted) belong to the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarians' Round-Table Conference (A.K.A. the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League), which is linked to the Nippon Kaigi (Full name: Japan Conference for Revising the Constitution and Assisting the Imperial Throne), Japan's largest rightwing organization.

In addition, a prime ministerial assistant and a deputy chief cabinet secretary, as well as 16 state ministers and 16 parliamentary vice ministers are in the same parliamentarian league. Adding up all of these positions from ministers to deputy chief cabinet secretary, Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League members make up 67.5 percent of the Abe Administration.

Establishment of the Nippon Kaigi and the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League

When and how were the Nippon Kaigi and the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League started? The Nippon Kaigi was launched on May 30 ,1997, as Japan's largest rightwing organization for the purpose of revising the Constitution and assisting Imperial Rule [Translator's note: Harking back to the Imperial Rule Assistance Association of the 1940s]. It was formed through the integration of two existing groups: the Nihon o mamoru kai (Society for the Protection of Japan), a rightwing organization founded in 1974, and the Nihon o mamoru kokumin kaigi (People's Conference/National Conference to Protect Japan, a religious rightwing organization founded in 1981).

On May 29, the day before the Nippon Kaigi was launched, the nonpartisan Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League was established for the purpose of completely backing and closely cooperating with the Nippon Kaigi.

The membership list of the Nippon Kaigi is not open to the public, so it is not easy to find out the parliamentarians who are in the Nippon Kaigi League. The author, however, has obtained the list a number of times since 1997. According to it, the Diet members who have joined the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League has continued to increase, from the original 189 members from both chambers at the start to 281 members as of September 2015. The Asahi Shimbun reported in October 2016 that there were 290 members.

Although the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League is nonpartisan, 90 percent are from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The members from the LDP form a formidable force in the Diet (around 40 percent of the total of 717 members of both houses of the Diet). The key members of such a powerful rightwing parliamentarian league have been working behind the scenes to push up Shinzo Abe as LDP president and prime minister during his three administrations. Japan's politics is being shaped by the close cooperation between the Nippon Kaigi and its related parliamentarian league.

Nippon Kaigi and the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League Control Japanese Politics, Society, Education

The Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League is working on three projects: 1) "History, Education, and Family Issues" (chaired by Sanae Takaichi since 2007; others are the same); 2) "Defense, Diplomacy, and Territorial Issues" (chaired by Shinzo Abe); and 3) "Constitution, Imperial Household, and Yasukuni Issues" (chaired by Yoshitada Konoike). The project teams engage in discussions with the Nippon Kaigi through joint meetings of officials and other formats, and they carry out activities that bring requests and proposals of Nippon Kaigi to the government.

In addition, the Nippon Kaigi has held study group sessions bringing in such lecturers as journalist Yoshiko Sakurai, who is a key member of the Nippon Kaigi and lectures on such themes as the Constitution, defense, bases, territorial issues, the Imperial System, and crisis management. Other lecturers include Akira Momochi (professor, Nippon University), Osamu Nishi (professor emeritus, Komazawa University), Kazuhiro Nagao (professor emeritus, Chuo University), Michiko Hasegawa (professor emeritus, Saitama University}, Yasuo Ohara (professor emeritus, Kokugakuin University) , and Shiro Takahashi (professor, Meisei University).The lecturers actively pursued theoretical arguments armed with theoretical backing, as well as unity of purpose.

In addition to such activities, the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarians' League established two project teams, one on the Imperial System (June 2014), chaired by Seiichi Eta) and another on Constitutional Revision (chaired by Keiji Furuya). The two project teams carry out study sessions and policy-making.

The Nippon Kaigi and the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarian League meet on a regular basis with each other, and through such means as joint meetings of officials , share views of situations and policy courses. On October 7, 2007, the two organizations held a joint convention to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their founding. Through the close cooperation of the two rightwing organizations, they are able to have a profound influence on Japanese politics, society, and the educational system. More than just extending its influence, the Nippon Kaigi, through the activities of the parliamentarian league, is able to realize its policies and it can get the government to withdraw its own policies.

The Organization and Movements of the Nippon Kaigi and Its Accomplishments

Nippon Kaigi commands a force of 38,000 members across the country . There is a headquarters for the 47 prefectures and a total of 250 local branches. The Nippon Kaigi has developed a grassroots rightwing movement via the Nippon Kaigi League of Local Assembly Members, consisting of over 1,600 local assembly members, as well as via such organizations as the Nippon Kaigi-affiliated Japan Women's Association and the Japan Youth Conference. Centered on the local assembly leagues and other grassroots organizations, the Nippon Kaigi has promoted a people's movement, elevating itself to a frontline organization on specific topics. As a result, if its period as the Nihon wo Mamoru Kokumin Kaigi is included, the Nippon Kaigi has accomplished results that have greatly influenced Japanese politics, society and education .

The following lists the main achievements:
  • Enactment of the Era Name Law 
  • Realization of government-sponsored celebratory events by the Emperor 
  • Halting a planned change in the Imperial Household Law that would have allowed women to ascend the Imperial Throne 
  • Enactment of national flag and anthem legislation 
  • Expunging passages about "comfort women" from middle school textbooks 
  • Revision of the Basic Education Law 
  • Stopping a bill that would have allowed women to choose a name different from their husband's family name 
  • Stopping a bill to allow foreigners to have the right to participate in regional politics 
  • Revising the textbook screening system and strengthening the controls on textbooks 
  • Bringing about the study of morality (dotoku) in schools 
  • Broadening the movement to pay homage annually on August 15 at Yasukuni Shrine 
  • Realizing the citation of government views in school textbooks about the widening xenophobia toward the territorial issue, and the choosing of a textbook published by lkuhosha. 
If one looks at it this way , it is clear that a fearsome plan has been revealed whereby the requests and tasks laid out by the rightwing organization Nippon Kaigi have been realized by the moves of members of the Diet and local assemblies in cooperation with the members of the Nippon Kaigi, local branches, and such other organizations as the Japan Women's Association.

Current State of the Constitution-Revision Movement by the Abe Administration and Nippon Kaigi

The Nippon Kaigi, looking toward realizing its long-cherished goal (which is also that of Prime Minister Abe) of revising the Constitution, formed in October 2014 the "People's Association to Create a Constitution for a Beautiful Japan" (Kokumin no Kai). It then put in every effort to build a grassroots movement to revise the Constitution that would bring about a "war-making country." The officers of the Kokumin no Kai are co-head Yoshiko Sakurai (who also heads the Minkan Kenpo Rincho (Private Ad Hoc Council on the Constitution), Tadae Takubo (chairman of the Nippon Kaigi) , Toru Miyoshi (honorary chairman of the Nippon Kaigi) director Yuzo Kabashima, and secretary general Akira Momochi.

Kokumin no Kai is aiming to gather 10 million signatures approving constitutional revision, and it is developing a grassroots movement calling for constitutional revision for the Nippon Kaigi.

The form of Nippon Kaigi activities are the same as when it was the Nihon wo Mamoru Kokumin Kaigi, that is to say, "replacing the leftwing movement with a rightwing movement." It does so by covering the country from the regions to the center, by such activities as gathering signatures, pleading for support to the Diet members in each district, obtaining resolutions by local assemblies, sponsoring gatherings in each locality and large rallies in Tokyo, caravans across the country, and placing newspaper ads.

In the House of Councillors’ election in July 2016, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito gained seats, and when the seats not up for reelection are added, reached more than the two-thirds majority needed for amending the Constitution. Prime Minister Abe asserted, “We seem to have built a bridge (to revising the Constitution).” (From the Nippon Kaigi’s official magazine “Nihon no Ibuki (Breath of Japan)”, September 2016 issue)

Thus, the impetus toward constitutional revision is growing rapidly. The Nippon Kaigi, too, seeing this as the ideal chance for changing the Constitution, is strengthening even more its grassroots movement to do so.

With the ruling coalition’s win in the Upper House election, Yuzo Kabashima, the chairman of the Nihon Seinen Kyogikai (Japan Youth Conference), as well as the secretary general of the Nippon Kaigi, wrote the following in a September 30, 2016, “confidential” bulletin, “Japan’s Pride” News:

“With the ruling coalition obtaining the two-thirds majority in the Upper House election that is needed for revising the Constitution, I strongly feel the significant fact is that the world has changed on July 10. We are living in a completely new world.”

“It is close to a miracle that at the same time a situation allowing constitutional reform has emerged in both chambers of the Diet. And the G7 leaders all formally visited Ise Shrine.”

“Since the election was soon after that, it is only natural to think that it was a miracle. I am thankful for this situation having come about, and I would like to carry out our responsibility.”

At that working-level meeting, Kabashima touched on expanding the movement to gather 10 million signatures to support revising the Constitution, as well the movement to persuade local assemblies to adopt position papers seeking constitutional revision. The Nippon Kaigi announced that as of October 31, 2016, local assembly resolutions were passed in 35 prefectures, 56 towns or cities, and that the drive to reach 10 million signatures had reached 7.54 million as of July 31, 2016. It asserts that signatures will reach the 10 million mark by the end of the year. [Editor: it is unknown if this goal was attained.]

For additional details about the Nippon Kaigi and the Nippon Kaigi Parliamentarians’ League, please refer to my book, “The Whole Story about the Nippon Kaigi – The Actual Situation about that Unknown Giant Organization [Nippon Kaigi no Zenbo – Shirarezaru Kyodai Soshiki no Jittai] published by Kadensha.

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