Aso hails the NazisTaro Aso, former Japanese prime minister and now deputy prime minister and finance minister under the right-wing Shinzo Abe administration, is infamous for making controversial comments. And now, he’s done it again. In a lecture in Tokyo on Monday, he said Japan should learn from the Nazi government in how it rewrote the German constitution under the Weimar Republic without anyone knowing in the early 1930s. He was obviously referencing the conservative government’s campaign to change Japan’s pacifist constitution so the country can once again have full military capacity.
It is disgraceful for Japan to have a high-profile statesman, who is viewed as a potential candidate to lead the country for a second time, to publicly champion surreptitious Nazi methods for altering the constitution for political purposes.
In 1933, then-Chancellor Adolf Hitler snuck in a so-called Enabling Act to give himself unrestricted plenary powers without interference from parliament, thus paving the way for his dictatorship and bringing an end to the Weimar constitution, which has been dubbed the first democratic constitution in the modern world. The almighty Nazi regime was established through the abolishment of most civil liberties and a transfer of legislative powers to the executive branch of government.
Aso made the remarks to accelerate moves to revise the post-war pacifist constitution. He is suggesting the government first amend Article 96 to ease the requirements for a constitutional amendment, which currently requires two-thirds majority of both the upper and lower houses. If achieved, the constitution could be revised to create full-fledged military forces that could go to war without the interference of public opinion at home or abroad. This bizarre idea came about because he is obsessed with nostalgia of imperialist Japan and reviving past glory by freeing the country from its pacifist constitution.
Aso has a long track record of making controversial remarks. In the same seminar, he advocated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, saying it’s natural to honor and pay respects to those who sacrificed their lives for the country. How does Tokyo expect to talk diplomatically and mend ties with its neighbours, which still bear bitter memories from Japan’s military aggression, with such a scandalous man representing the cabinet in the No. 2 rank? We are very concerned about the Abe government.