Ozawa v. Abe, round two

DPJ President Ozawa Ichiro and Prime Minister Abe Shinzo had their second sparring match in the Diet yesterday, much of which was spent discussing the ongoing 『核保有』 問題 (the possession of nuclear weapons problem). The FT provides a good summary of the debate up until now here.

The Mainichi Shimbun reports that Ozawa spent fifteen of his forty-five minutes talking about the nuclear weapons issue, but Mr. Abe seems to have parried Ozawa’s thrusts. The LDP’s main tactic in replying to DPJ criticism has been quoting from speeches made by DPJ officials in which they argued that Japan should consider producing nuclear weapons (these remarks seem to come from the late 1990s, not long after the DPJ’s founding, when it was flirting with “Gaullism” regarding the US-Japan alliance as a way to distinguish itself from the LDP). Mr. Abe restated his commitment to the three non-nuclear principles, but, as this article in the Japan Times suggests, Mr. Abe seemed to suggest that debate among party executives and cabinet officials on this question is not objectionable, which would contradict the message coming from senior LDP officials in recent days (see here and here).

So despite Mr. Abe’s insistence that Japanese policy on nuclear weapons remains unchanged, it seems perhaps that the prime minister doth protest too much. What you have now seems to be a non-debate debate, which is worse than no debate at all, because it means that important questions, questions related to Japan’s national identity, are being discussed without input from the Diet at large and the public as a whole. If there is going to be a debate on this issue, it must be broad; pretending that there is no debate does the Japanese people a disservice.

So Mr. Abe, when are you going to become a “fighting politician” and have the courage of your convictions?

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