I was appalled. According to sources, at a meeting on July 29, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso made the following remark when speaking about constitutional revision:
“One day, (the Germans) found that the Weimar Constitution was changed to the Nazi Constitution. It was changed without being noticed by anyone. Why don’t we learn from that technique?”
Based on coverage by fellow reporters and information I confirmed with Aso’s office, here’s what I learned.
First, Aso spoke about how the Nazis seized authoritarian power. He explained that it was a choice made by the German people under the advanced Weimar Constitution, and went on to say that no matter how good a Constitution is, such a thing can happen.
Next, Aso stressed that he doesn’t want Japan to go ahead with constitutional revision in a noisy environment. And then, he made the comment I introduced at the beginning of this column. If we take his comment at face value, it would mean that Aso wants Japan to emulate the method of the Nazis, which destroyed democracy without making a fuss.
Aso added, “I have no intention at all to deny democracy.” Still, I cannot agree to his view that it’s good to have the Constitution undergo a change before anyone realizes what’s going on.
The regime of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) took advantage of a functional failure in the parliament to take over the nation. It suppressed opposition forces and created a law, called the Enabling Act, which made it possible for the government to do whatever it liked. Could the Nazi Constitution that Aso referred to be that law? Later, the situation led to war and the Holocaust.
I cannot understand Aso’s mind-set that cites the Nazis, a power group that committed indescribably horrible crimes, as an example at this juncture. If he means that it is dangerous to revise the Constitution amid frenzy and we should cool down and calmly discuss the subject, it is understandable. Even if so, why does he have to go out of his way to use such an inappropriate expression?
I am surprised at the thoughtlessness of his speech.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 1
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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