Abe's war shrine visit confirms shift to right

Abe's war shrine visit confirms shift to right
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) speaking to reporters last week when he visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

Japan is rapidly drifting to the right.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's surprise visit on Dec26 to the infamous Yasukuni war shrine has established beyond any doubt his nationalistic credentials and the dangerous direction he is bent on taking his country.

The ultimate aim of the so-called Abenomics growth policies that Mr Abe ushered in soon after coming to office in December last year is not merely to lift Japan out of deflation.

It was also to win the July 2013 Upper House election, thereby giving his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) control of both Houses of Parliament that will allow him to achieve his top agenda item - to revise Japan's Peace Constitution.

After the Upper House victory, Mr Abe immediately put Abenomics on the back-burner and in its place trotted out a new buzzword - "proactive pacifism".

Taking advantage of his party's domination of Parliament, he quickly rammed through laws to protect Japan's official secrets with stiff punishments for violations, and also to set up a national security council to direct security and foreign policy from his office.

Along the way, he also raised the country's defence budget, the first time in a decade.

Mr Abe even admitted on television recently that it is his "career goal" to revise Japan's Peace Constitution. He has made it known that he considers it a humiliating document forced upon Japan by the post-war United States-led Occupation.

Revision requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Parliament. But he is hopeful it can be done by aligning his party with two opposition groups - the Japan Restoration Party and Your Party - that share his ideals.

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