Conservative Japanese lobby group seeks to revise constitution
Stars and Stripes | .
published: July 19, 2016
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The growing influence of conservative lobby group Nippon Kaigi in Japan largely dovetails with the U.S. desire for the Asian country to expand its role in regional security, but worries opponents who fear a return to pre-World War II values.
The group, seldom mentioned in the media and not widely known outside Japan, wants to revise the nation’s post-war constitution, restore traditional values, promote worship of the emperor and put the state before individuals.
“There’s no underestimating their influence,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asia Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo.
Nippon Kaigi, which means “Japan Conference,” can mobilize voters in large numbers and has a star-studded membership that includes some of the nation’s most powerful business and political leaders, Kingston said. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a member, as are four out of five of his cabinet ministers and 40 percent of the representatives in the Diet, Japan’s parliament.