High time for Japan's ruling bloc to listen to its people
Updated: 2015-08-31 19:27
TOKYO - As more than 120,000 people have surrounded Japan's national Diet building and protested at 300 other locations nationwide demanding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's resignation and retraction of the controversial security bills, maybe it is time for the country's ruling bloc to carefully listen to the public.
The protest is the largest in about five decades, with participants coming from a wide cross-section of society -- academics, artists, students, housewives and young and old were present. It came after months of demonstrations against the security bills, which, if enacted, will allow the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to play a bigger role worldwide.
Even if the protest could be the biggest embarrassment the Abe-led ruling bloc has encountered to date, the bloc that groups the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior Komeito Party is still maintaining a domineering and arrogant attitude towards the public's anger.
LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki has hinted that the ruling camp will continue trying to seek the passage of the unpopular bills in the current Diet session.
Although the ruling coalition stressed that they will endeavor to gain public understanding over the bills, their ambiguous statements in the Diet, alluding to the bills allowing for the SDF to transport US nuclear weapons, failed to satisfy, and, in fact, utterly infuriated opposition parties and the public.
The forced passage of the legislation through the Diet's lower house last month slashed the support rate for Abe's cabinet to a record low and it is reasonable to predict that if the same scenario was seen in the upper house, the support rate for the ruling bloc will continue to decline.
A diving support rate for Abe is dangerous since the ruling camp would possibly lose its dominance in the upper house in the chamber's election next year. It will be a tough situation for the prime minister as he won't be able to launch his mission to revise the Constitution if the ruling camp loses its majority position and he would likely have to resign to take responsibility for the electoral defeat.
Before the possible vote on the bills in the upper house in mid-September, it would be a wise move for the prime minister and the ruling bloc to listen to the public's voice on the issue in a humble manner, if Abe really wants to earn more time for his premiership beyond the upcoming LDP presidential contest.
The security-related legislation runs contrary to Japan's seven decades of pacifism, which is seen as the country's peaceful commitment to the world since the end of World War II. The prime minister really should think twice before overturning the peaceful course that the country has charted.