The Japanese “LDP(Liberal Democratic Party)”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Democratic_Party_%28Japan%29 is probably scared of finally losing government for the first time ever, after their main opposition, the “DPJ(Democratic Party of Japan)”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_of_Japan (DPJ) won 178 seats in the general election of October 2003. So it is drafting a new constitution for Japan which will make its social conservatism a fundamental feature of the country’s political system. “The Japan Times”:http://www.japantimes.com reports that they are looking to curtail freedom of assembly, as well as “to restrict or ban the publication or sale of books that have a detrimental effect on young people’s upbringing.” They also want to be able to spend government money on ShintÃ´ religious ceremonies. This won’t be ordinary legislation: it’ll probably be not just allowed, but suggested by the constitution. The changes required could be pretty far-reaching, since the current constitution guarantees that “freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated,” (Article 21). Even “academic freedom” is currently guaranteed specifically, by article 23.
Constitutions are meant to be minimal, and to *limit* the scope of government to the protection of citizens’ rights to property and self-determination. These moves would clearly transgress the purpose for which written constitutions were championed in the 18th and 19th centuries. In its original form, the US constitution is probably the best of those pioneering documents, and the Japanese ought to think themselves lucky that US officials “drafted”:http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/outline/00outline.html their “current one”:http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Japan/English/english-Constitution.html during the occupation after WWII(World War 2, 1939-1945). For the record, I think the present Japanese constitution is a hell of a lot better than the Australian one. Maybe we could offer to take it off their hands (minus the stuff about the Emperor appointing the Prime Minister and so on).
Let’s hope the DPJ(Democratic Party of Japan) wins the next Japanese election and sets things right.
Incidentally, the Japanese LDP shares few values (except a commitment to privatisation) with the “Liberal Democratic Party of Australia”:http://www.ldp.org.au/, which I recently joined.