Japan is poised to change the interpretation of its constitution, allowing it to step up its military involvement in conflicts that have nothing to do with the nation’s self-defense. This radical departure from decades of constitutional interpretation has met with justifiable protests, but all opposition seems too little, too late.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has enjoyed more strength and influence (not to mention time in office) than any other prime minister in recent years. Despite enacting a slew of questionable new policies (such as so-called “Abenomics,” which has yet to result in the sort of economic recovery promised to Japanese voters), Mr. Abe has remained mostly popular with the electorate, and his LDP seems to have a lock on the government for the foreseeable future.
The new interpretation of the constitution, however, might turn the tide of popular opinion. Mr. Abe’s poll numbers have begun to slide, but it remains to be seen how far the damage might go. Moreover, the LDP’s dominance in the Diet is so overwhelming that it would take nothing short of a political miracle for the party to lose its advantage. As unpopular as the change may be, it seems that the LDP will face little consequence from the electorate.
In spite of having multiple political parties available to the voters, Japan for all intents and purposes has only one real party from which to choose. And this political reality is a major cause of the problem. In order for the voters to hold some sway over the politicians (for whom they presumably work), there must be a viable alternative in the Diet for the electorate to choose. Otherwise, the ruling party can run roughshod over everything and everyone, and face no consequences whatsoever. For all the faults of America’s two-party system (and they are many), it certainly beats having a one-party system.