One lone voice in LDP opposes security legislation

Seiichiro Murakami is like a single dove in a sky filled with squawking hawks.

The veteran lawmaker sings a different tune from his colleagues in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party regarding the contentious security legislation before the Diet.

He is now the lone voice in the LDP willing to stand up and vocally oppose the bills that would greatly expand the overseas activities of the Self-Defense Forces.

“As the top party of Japan, the LDP should not do anything that is wrong in terms of constitutional theory,” Murakami said June 30 at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “Under the current Constitution, the right to collective self-defense cannot be exercised.”

Murakami has been a Lower House member of the LDP for close to 30 years, and he always believed a major strength of the party was that it allowed a wide range of opinions and also free debate.

But when the on collective self-defense began to heat up in 2013, “I thought that a number of others would join me in opposing the (move), but there was no one else,” Murakami said on June 30.

The Abe Cabinet decided in July 2014 to change the government interpretation of the Constitution and lift the long-held ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense. The proposed security legislation outlines this expanded role for the SDF.

Murakami was first elected to the Lower House in 1986, when he was 34. He has won 10 straight terms and now represents the Ehime No. 2 district. He once belonged to a liberal-leaning faction within the LDP, but he is no longer associated with any faction.

He revealed that there are still many lawmakers who stop by his office in the Lower House members’ building and say to him, “What you are saying is right.”

But they have not stood up and spoken out against the notion of exercising collective self-defense.

At the FCCJ news conference, a reporter with the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung asked Murakami if there were other ruling coalition members who would cast a vote against the security legislation.

Without directly responding to the question, Murakami said: “This is an issue of a politician’s convictions. Each individual has to make a decision based on their conscience.”

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    July 2 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to allow Japan to defend its allies are meeting opposition from a war-wary public, concerned that broadening the remit of the military could drag the country into a conflict after almost 70 years of peace.

    With the cabinet agreeing to reinterpret the constitution to permit collective self-defense, Abe’s government, which has a majority in both houses, plans to submit bills starting in the autumn specifying changes to the role of the Self-Defense Forces. Surveys show ordinary Japanese are increasingly concerned about his actions, raising the risk of slow progress through the Diet as lawmakers waver.

    Public opposition is high despite China sparring with Japan over territory, beefing up its military presence in the region and calling Abe a trouble-maker. His move to reinterpret the pacifist Article 9 of the postwar constitution is seen as potentially opening the door to major changes to the defense forces.

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