Abe losing public's trust

Updated: 2014-07-17 08:32

By Cai Hong (China Daily)

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Abe losing public's trust

High-handed policies to lift ban on collective self-defense and other rightists moves are undermining support for the ruling coalition

Japan's quasi-army has hired Haruka Shimazaki, a member of the well-known AKB48 all-girl pop group, to help with recruitment.

A sweetly smiling Shimazaki can be seen in TV commercials and online videos, featuring the slogan "You and Peace", that are trying to recruit young Japanese to the self-defense forces with the promise, "a job you won't find anywhere else".

The SDF recruitment posters are also visible in Tokyo's subway trains. Since July 1, Japan's Defense Ministry has mailed letters to high school students nationwide encouraging them to enlist.

"Coincidently", this year's recruitment drive began on the same day Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe allowed the forces to take part in missions outside their homeland.

The social media comments following this development reflect a wary, angry Japanese public, with many calling it "sinister".

The Japanese public was unhappy when Abe rammed through his secrecy bill, now they are even more concerned with his reinterpretation of Article 9 of the country's Constitution to allow collective self-defense.

The public support for the Abe administration is clearly waning. July opinion polls show the lowest approval ratings for the Abe Cabinet since it swept into office in December 2012.

A Yomiuri Shimbun poll found that support for the government had fallen to 48 percent, down 9 percentage points from June. This significant drop was the direct result of Abe's high-handed push for an expanded role for Japan's military. The prestigious University of Tokyo has turned down the defense ministry's invitation to undertake joint research on improving the C-2 transport aircraft - a plane developed solely by the ministry - on the grounds that it goes against the school's ban on military-related studies. The C-2 transport aircraft, as well as transport helicopters, are on the procurement list of Japan's air self-defense force, which plans to set up a new squadron to be deployed in Naha, Okinawa (close to China's Diaoyu Islands).

Some Japanese are so concerned about Abe's latest move, they are taking legal action. A lawsuit has been filed against the prime minister for the Cabinet's decision to lift the ban on the right to collective self-defense. The applicants have asked the local courts to rule that the reinterpretation is invalid.

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