November 25, 2004
Japanese Want Out, Japan May Stay In
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A new poll by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun says that while only 25% of Japanese want their troops to stay in Iraq, 61% want them to leave. This is not surprising, because it would be difficult for the average Japanese person to see what benefit there is in the endeavor--even if their troops were fulfilling some worthy cause--and it is difficult for the Koizumi administration to sell the extension for what it is, in effect, a wedge to begin remilitarizing Japan and eradicating the anti-war Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.
First off, if the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun had taken the poll, I'd put good money on them finding a majority wanting the troops to stay--the Yomiuri has been vociferous in its support of repealing or de-clawing Article 9, and ever since I came to Japan in the 80's, they've been running constant stories about how most Japanese just can't wait to get rid of the pesky provision. Since the Nihon Keizai is much more moderate, I trust the poll results to be very likely accurate.
Second, what will the outcome be? My own expectation is fairly strong that the LDP will extend the mission. I don't think they care much about 60%--80% maybe, but not 60%--and besides, that 25% that wants to stay on is likely their core base. And Koizumi seems quite persistent in his quest to change the face of Japan's military.