In the Land of the Rising Sun, a conservative Shinto cult dating back to the 1970s, which includes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and many of his cabinet among its adherents, finally has been dragged out of the shadows.
The group is called Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference) and is ostensibly run by Tadae Takubo, a former journalist turned political scientist. It only has 38,000 members, but like many an exclusive club, or sect, it wields tremendous political influence.
Broadly speaking, Shinto is a polytheistic and animist religion native to Japan. The state-sponsored Shintoism promulgated here before and during World War II also elevated the Emperor to the status of a God and insisted that the Japanese were a divine race –– the Yamato; with all other races considered inferior.
Nippon Kaigi originally began in the early 1970s from a liberal Shinto group known as Seicho No Ie. In 1974, a splinter section of the group joined forces with Nippon o Mamoru Kai, a State-Shinto revival organization that espoused patriotism and a return to imperial worship. The group in its current state was officially formed in May of 1997, when Nippon o Mamoru Kai and a group of right-leaning intellectuals joined forces.
The current cult’s goals: gut Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution, end sexual equality, get rid of foreigners, void pesky “human rights” laws, and return Japan to its Imperial Glory.
With Japan’s parliamentary elections to be held on July 10, the cult may now have its chance to dominate policity completely. If the ruling coalition wins enough seats, the door will open to amending Japan’s modern democratic constitution, something that has remained sacred and inviolate since 1947.
Indeed, for Japan, these elections may be a constitutional Brexit—deciding whether this country moves forward as a democracy or literally takes a step back to the Meiji era that ended more than a century ago. Then, the Emperor was supreme and freedom of expression was subservient to the interests of the state.
The influence of Nippon Kaigi may be hard for an American to understand on a gut level. But try this: Imagine if “future World President” Donald Trump belonged to a right-wing evangelical group, let’s call it “USA Conference,” that advocated a return to monarchy, the expulsion of immigrants, the revoking of equal rights for women, restrictions on freedom of speech—and most of his pre-selected political appointees were from the same group.
Sounds incredible … In any case, this would worry people.
That is the American equivalent of what has already taken place in Japan with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet.
Abe, a third-generation politician, is the grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, who was Japan’s minister of munitions during WWII and arrested as a war criminal in 1945 before becoming prime minister in the 1950s.
Abe is a staunch nationalist and historical revisionist, who also served as prime minister, from 2006 until 2007, before resigning abruptly mid-term. His ties to the Nippon Kaigi organization go back to the ‘90s.
In line with fellow members of his imperial and imperialist cult, Abe has said the revision of the constitution is his lifetime goal. In an interview in Nikkei Asian Review, published in February 2014, Abe stated, “My party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has been advocating amending our constitution since its founding almost 60 years ago.”
So, now, Abe and his party, at least the extremist factions, are at last coming very close to that goal.
Japan’s Parliament, also known as the Diet, is composed of an upper and lower house. Article 96 of the constitution stipulates that amendments can be made to the constitution if approved by super majority of two-thirds of both houses of the Diet, and by simple majority in a referendum.
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