With snap elections called by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, it’s time that we turn our attention once again to the important strain of militarism which has begun to grow in the Conservative factions of the government. This strain isn’t new, and began just a couple of decades after World War Two. Shinzo Abe’s father, another prime minister, made it his goal to get rid of Article 19 (the pacifist clause in the Japanese constitution). This was a feat that he never accomplished, but his son might. Interest in reviving a military force able to intervene and fight wars abroad has grown in recent years. The Prime Minister’s cabinet has included a number of far-right parties looking to expand the Self-Defense Force’s powers as well as broaden the range of military activities Japan is allowed to take.

While there have been articles anxious over this trend and studies looking back on why Japan’s neighbors may be nervous about this rise (read: the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere) few have tracked this phenomenon since its beginning. As stated above,¬†Japanese militarism is not new, it has not exploded from the ether because of North Korea but instead has been a part of Japanese Politics for decades. The Pacifist (Dove) section of the government has always been powerful enough to stall the hawk faction in its tracks – until now presumably. In recent months inaction by the U.S. over tensions in the region has only exacerbated an already worsening situation.¬† Where the snap elections will take Japan is uncertain, but they are certainly a development to watch closely.

Right wing protesters raising the Japanese imperial flag, used for its connotations to military action during WW2