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Abe Aims for Seaborne Striking Power

SNA (Tokyo) — This Week in Japan is your source for news and information about politics and other happenings in this East Asian island country. This episode covers the Top Five stories of the final week of December 2017.

The Abe government’s contempt for the Peace Constitution was expressed in a new fashion this past week when it emerged they were considering the possibility of converting the nation’s supposedly defense-only helicopter carriers into fully offensive aircraft carriers, like the ones that launched the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Apparently, some new excuse would be developed to explain how aircraft carriers and strike forces that could deployed around the world are somehow suddenly legal under a constitution that expressly forbids war-making capability.

Meanwhile, the progressive administration of Moon Jae-In in South Korea was attempting to carefully walk back from the deeply unpopular 2015 bilateral agreement with Japan over the Comfort Women issue. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha explained, accurately, that the previous conservative government had formed the agreement without a popular political mandate to do so. The Abe government’s public response was to continue to demand that Seoul follow the existing agreement without negotiation or revision.

Russia made it clear this week that it was not pleased with the Japanese government’s plan to buy an Aegis Ashore anti-missile system from the United States. In Moscow’s view, this was a violation of treaties that had previously been signed between the United States and Russia over nuclear arms reductions. They stated that they weren’t happy that Japan was participating in a scheme that could weaken Russia’s eastern defenses.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan scored another coup this week when former Democratic Party leader Renho defected to their banner. Although Renho did not prove to be an effective opposition leader during her year in authority, she remains a popular figure with strong debating skills and a high profile. She explained that she ditched the Democratic Party because it couldn’t figure out what policies it stands for.

And… speaking of which, the Democratic Party remained lost and confused at the end of 2017. Their basic scheme to reunite the main opposition parties into a single parliamentary caucus foundered because it was rightly rejected by the progressives. That meant only the conservative Party of Hope remained as a potential partner. Perhaps they believed that one unpopular political party, plus another unpopular political party, somehow would add up to something other than a larger unpopular political party bound for humiliation at the next elections.

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