In an interview with Sankei Shimbun newspaper on October 5, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the LDP, spoke of his reasons for dissolving the House and calling a general election. “There is absolutely no guarantee that more time would resolve the problems” amid the increasing tensions with North Korea, he said. “In fact, it could exacerbate it further.”
To the Prime Minister, “this general election is to decide who will handle the current situation.”
Abe revealed his view that various events—such as United States President Donald Trump’s first scheduled visit to Japan in November, and the subsequent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits—should be used to exert necessary and increasing pressure on North Korea in the future.
He disclosed that the international situation was integral to his decision to dissolve Parliament, saying, “I felt that, in the current circumstances, we should gain a mandate from the people to undertake firm diplomacy toward North Korea.”
The Prime Minister highlighted anew the fact that, for the past 20 years, North Korea had broken promises to the US and the international community, and increased its nuclear and missile capabilities.
“The international community, Mr Trump, and myself all recognize that in order for North Korea to change their policies, we need to create a situation wherein North Korea wants to enter into talks,” Abe said.
Regarding the issue of constitutional revision, Abe noted the current situation, in which many constitution scholars view the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) as unconstitutional, and reiterated his desire to clearly recognize the JSDF in Article 9 of the Constitution.
“The JSDF is protecting the lives of the Japanese people from the threat of North Korea 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our generation is behooved to ensure that the JSDF is freed from any claims of unconstitutionality,” he said.
Speaking of the other, equally harrowing, national crisis—the issue of the low birth rate and aging society—the Prime Minister said: “It is the greatest challenge of Abenomics. We have decided to use consumption tax revenues to invest in our children, rather than to repay the national debt. We will instigate bold changes to the social security system across all ages.”
Touching on the limited recognition of the right of collective self-defense, as outlined in the new security laws, the Prime Minister stated: “We have strengthened the Japan-US alliance ties, as well as our deterrent capabilities. It was very significant.”
Abe also said that “the public will no doubt cast a critical eye,” over former Democratic Party members who have joined the Party of Hope, thereby proclaiming support for the security bill, despite the DP’s prior protestations of unconstitutionality.
“Given that the party as a whole judged it as unconstitutional, they need to explain why their interpretation has changed,” he said.
The Prime Minister would not be drawn to comment on Party of Hope leader Yuriko Koike, except to say, “I look forward to working with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, as Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Makiko Takita, staff writer of the Sankei Shimbun, and Rui Abiru, editorial writer of the Sankei Shimbun, have contributed to this article.
(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)