Germany has committed to rebuilding its military, thereby reversing a post-war commitment to pacifism. Will its former ally Japan do the same? The question follows the shocking assassination on Friday of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who had long advocated for constitutional changes to Japan’s pacifist ideology. Two days after Abe’s death, his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) added to its majority in what Daniel Aldrich, a Northeastern professor of political science and public policy, refers to as a “sympathy vote.”
“Abe’s faction—even though he was no longer the prime minister or an active member of Parliament—was quite powerful,” says Aldrich, whose five books and 75 peer-reviewed papers have focused mainly on Japan. “With his passing the question will be, what will happen to his faction?”
One of Abe’s unfinished missions was his desire to revise Article 9 of Japan’s constitution. Enacted after World War II, it prevents Japan from waging war in response to international disputes. Japan’s “Self-Defense Forces”—which employ close to 250,000 people—are so named because “defense is not prohibited by the process,” says Aldrich.