Rethinking the Constitution

For over 60 years, people have been arguing about Japan’s Constitution. Yet for most of this time, the calls for revision were rejected as covert efforts to revive the wartime military and other state structures. More recently, the calls have been broadened and repackaged, and the focus shifted to the prerequisite refer- endum stipulated in Article 96. It was in that atmosphere that Kodansha collected the views of dozens of influential people and published them as Nihon no Kenpo: Kokumin Shuken no Ronten — which might be roughly translated as “discussing the Constitution assuming the people are sovereign.” Strident politicians have been heard, but what about the rest of us, this book asks — and answers.

Now available in English translation as Rethinking the Constitution: An Anthology of Japanese Opinion, this wide-ranging compendium of short essays by well- and not-so-well-known opinion leaders from all walks of life is intended to inform non-Japanese opinion by demonstrating the diversity of Japanese opinion. Politicians, pundits, entertainers, businesspeople, NGO leaders, academics, and more: they are all here. These are some of the people who will influence the final decision — a decision that the people will have to make in a national referendum voting on whatever draft ultimately comes out of the Diet.

It is easy to assume there are just one or two positions on Constitutional revision. In reality, there are thousands — there are as many positions on this as there are people who have thought seriously about it. An engaging sampler of some of the best and most thought-provoking views on this crucial issue, Rethinking the Constitution: An Anthology of Japanese Opinion is now available at Amazon and other fine bookstores — as well as directly from the publisher here.

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