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In Session: Japan's "Peace Constitution": Utilization, Appropriation, and Reinterpretation
3: Toward a More People-Oriented Security Policy: The Recent Developments of Progressive Circles in Japan
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Takasaki City University of Economics, Japan
This paper explores how the current Japanese government’s movement toward constitutional changes in response to shifting geopolitical conditions in East Asia has produced a heightened demand for “human security” within the progressive intellectual community. Since returning to office in 2012, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has insisted that the security environment of Japan has fundamentally changed following the Cold War. He has subsequently undertaken a series of measures to significantly alter Japan’s security policy, such as enacting new security laws and expanding the role of the Self-Defense Forces. Prime Minister Abe has pursued these efforts under the banner of “proactive contributions to peace” and argued for revising the Peace Constitution as an essential element of government security discourse. However, it has become increasingly apparent that Abe’s “proactive peace” security policy has sacrificed—even endangered—people’s lives. Japanese people, who have become vulnerable to the risks created by Abe’s neoliberal economy with its uneven distribution of wealth, are now increasingly suffering from expansive military expenditures during the crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic. Although still weak as a political force, a new trend of “people-oriented” security policy has emerged, pursued by progressive members of the Diet and intellectuals. Advocating “human security” instead of “national security,” these progressives hope to create a network with their U.S. counterparts, thus proposing a realistic alternative to Abe’s security policy. This paper examinesthese recent developments of progressive political and intellectual circles in Japan and their possible future.