A “girl band” that criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has highlighted public opposition to the current Japanese government's attempts to chance the country's “peace constitution.”
After the all-girl performance group sang a song with the lyrics “Let’s topple the LDP government” and “LDP, the root of all evil” at an event in the city of Yamato, the municipality censured the band and withdrew its support from the event.
— Tokyo Reporter (@tokyoreporter) June 25, 2015
Musical ensembles of young women known as “girl bands” are popular in Japan. In this case, Seihuku Kojyo Iinkai, (制服向上委員会, “High School Uniform Improvement Society”, or “SKi”) was formed in 2010.
The LDP, or Liberal Democratic Party, is the senior partner in the current coalition that governs the country, and is led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since being re-elected in December 2014, Abe and the ruling coalition have made a sustained push to “reinterpret” Japan's pacifist Constitution so that Japan can legally go to war.
At the moment the governing coalition is in the process of passing a package of legislation through the country's Diet (parliament) that the government claims would work within existing constitutional rules to allow Japan to exercise collective self defense.
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes, and the Japanese government under Shinzo Abe sees a need to be able to participate in military actions with key allies, notably the United States.
In practical terms, collective self defense would mean that Japan could conduct mine sweeping operations, fleet air defense with its Aegis cruisers or escort tanker traffic. There is also the possibility that the United States and Japan would cooperate to protect territory claimed by Japan in the far western reaches of the archipelago, notably the Senaku Islands that are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
While enabling Japan's military to somehow engage in collective self-defense is perceived by some Japanese people as being important to the country's American ally, there is little passion or support for the initiative among the young, who have until recently been struggling in a stagnant labor market, or the old, who are worried about pensions.
Since the December election, there are signs that opposition to the Abe government is slowly beginning to build.
アイドルグループ制服向上委員会メンバー木梨夏菜さん（１６） 「表現の自由だから私たちは全然気にしてないんだけれど、言いたいことを言えなくなったら本当に終わりだと思う。戦争を放棄している国を本当に誇りに思う」 若い人はよくわかってるね pic.twitter.com/GQmeSMLsOg
— PassyKis (@passykis) June 26, 2015
SKi member Natsuna Kinashi (16): “We enjoy freedom of speech (in Japan) so we don't really care (if Yamato City pulled its support from the event). If there comes a time when we can no longer say what we want to say, it's all over. I'm really proud Japan is a country that renounced war.”
Wow, the youth of today really get it, don't they. — PassyKis (@passykis)
Even among the hundreds of novelty acts that can be found in the Japanese entertainment industry, SKi has never been more than a fringe act.
The group did gain some recognition and notoriety several years ago thanks to its ditty “Free From Nuclear Power Plant” (“Da! Da! Datsugenpatsu”), which it released following the 2011 “triple disaster” that led to Japan's worst ever nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture.
The controversial performance at the Yamato City event is not the first time the girl band has voiced opposition to the Abe government's plans to revise the Japanese Constitution to allow the country to go to war.
One member of the group wrote an opinion piece about collective self defense for a local newspaper:
Newspaper headline: “Is this REALLY okay?” SKi member Natsuna Kinashi (15)
Twitter commentary: And of course, the members of SKi have voiced an opinion on whether or not Japan should have the right to exercise collective defense. What promising young women!
June has not been the best of months so far for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe was heckled by locals at a recent ceremony in the southern prefecture of Okinawa to mark the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II and a battle on that island that saw nearly 150,000 civilians killed.
In this video, hecklers can clearly be heard calling out, telling Abe to “go home.”
Video caption (at top): Okinawa residents say to Abe: “Why the hell did you come here?” “Stop telling your lies!” “Get the hell out of here!”
Okinawa residents are upset about the Japanese government's unilateral decision to allow the US Marine Corps to build a new base in Okinawa and its strongarm tactics against local residents protesting the decision.
Earlier in June the Abe government scored an “own goal” when two constitutional scholars, called as expert witnesses by the government itself, said that legislation currently being debated in the Diet which would allow Japan’s military to fight in defense of allies is unconstitutional.
In a further embarrassment to Shinzo Abe, the two constitutional experts then attended a press conference and severely criticised the legislation, stating it violates Article 9.
And, although mostly unreported on the nightly news, protesters have continued to gather night after night to protest attempts to reinterpret Article 9.
— 毎日新聞写真部 (@mainichiphoto) June 26, 2015
Student group SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) gather in torrential rain to protest in front of the Diet building. “No killing” and other messages are printed on their placards. “Protect the Constitution!” they call. See more pictures here: #SEALDs pic.twitter.com/GRX9pXxMoC
Here is SKi catching the public eye for the first time protesting nuclear power in the aftermath of the 2011 mega earthquake with this catchy little ditty: