[Buddha-l] Soka Gakkai and Japan's Constitution

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 10 00:14:00 MDT 2013

Background. After WW II, US occupation included guiding Japan to adopting a 
constitution that outlawed war and the building up of a military. They have 
gotten around the second part (seen any Godzilla movies lately?), but so 
far, despite increasing dominance of Japanese politics by right-wingers who 
are increasingly militant and belligerant, there has been push-back against 
changing the constitution. Post-war and generations that grew up in the 60s 
and early 70s are still largely committed to pacificism, but the generations 
after have little political savvy (or interest), tend to lean rightward, and 
are more concerned about the latest tech device than about peace or social 
issues, etc. At the moment, according to this WSJ piece, it is Soka Gakkai 
(an offshoot of Nichiren), otherwise quite conservative itself which is an 
important coalition partner of the conservative LDP party, that may be 
putting up some roadblocks to constitutional change.

July 9, 2013, 3:54
How Buddhists Reconcile With A Hawk

By Toko Sekiguchi

As Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party aims to regain its first 
control of both parliamentary chambers in quarter-century, the only force 
that stands between the popular Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's life-long goal 
of changing Japan's constitution may be a tiny yet politically powerful 
coalition partner with pacifist Buddhist backers.
The New Komeito, founded by the modern Buddhist sect Soka Gakkai in 1964 as 
the religious group's political body, has 31 seats in the 480-member lower 
house, and just 19 in the 242-seat upper house. However, the well-oiled 
voting machinery of Soka Gakkai, which boasts 8 million household 
memberships make Komeito an invaluable coalition partner for the LDP. 
Weakened organizational pull of LDP's traditional vote-gathering groups due 
to modernization have made Komeito's electoral cooperation and those 8 
million or so votes indispensable during election time, and the two parties 
have largely succeeded in overcoming ideological differences during their 
14-year alliance.

But with the hawkish Mr. Abe at the helm, Soka Gakkai must maintain a 
delicate balance between sharing power and aligning itself with a party 
calling for an overhaul of the constitution the Soka Gakkai says must be 
protected for its commitment to peace.

A senior official of the lay Buddhist group spoke to a group of foreign 
journalists in Tokyo this week to specifically explain where the Soka Gakkai 
stood on the contentious issue. Soka Gakkai's Vice President Hirotsugu 
Terasaki said the Komeito was opposed to changing Article 96 of the 
constitution first, which sets the conditions for putting forth a 
constitutional amendment to a national referendum. Mr. Abe wants to revise 
it so that an amendment proposal can be brought to the people if it has 
approval from a simple majority in both houses of parliament, rather than 
the current requirement for a two-thirds support.

"It would only make sense to discuss procedural amendments with 
issue-oriented amendments," Mr. Terasaki said, echoing a position held by 
the opposition Democratic Party of Japan. The prime minister has not linked 
his call for Article 96 revision with a specific change to another article, 
but he has in the past called for amending the pacifist Article 9, which 
renounces war.

for the rest, online at


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