Constitutional Revision in Japan

Why Change is Hard to Come By

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, May 2016. TORU HANAI / REUTERS

On July 10, Japanese voters went to the polls to choose representatives to fill half the seats in the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan's legislature. The election broke the mold in a number of respects. For the first time in Japan's history, 18- and 19-year-olds were allowed to vote. Also unprecedented: when the ballots were counted, two sitting cabinet members lost their seats in the upper house and a record number of female lawmakers had been elected to the chamber. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition, made up of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the pacifist party Komeito, emerged victorious, expanding its majority in the 242-member body by 11 seats. 

Of all these developments, the most significant is the edge gained by Abe's coalition. Critics argue the prime minister might use his newfound advantage to attempt to loosen Article 9 of Japan's constitution—the so-called peace

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