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Abe's Facebook 'Like' of 'garbage day' post on Constitution creates stir

(Mainichi)

On Constitution Memorial Day on May 3 this year, Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the enforcement of its war-renouncing Constitution. The same day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe created a stir with an abrupt announcement about the year 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, saying, "I want to make it a year when a new Constitution is brought into effect." Sometime afterward, Abe's Facebook page "liked" a Facebook post from a journalist critical of the current Constitution, who said that in the past he had called May 3 "garbage day."

The journalist's post was made on May 4, the day after Constitution Memorial Day. It remains unclear when the "like" option from Abe's Facebook page was clicked. Part of the post reads as follows:

"It has been 70 years since the implementation of the Constitution of Japan, which is a Constitution from the occupation period. Up until now I called May 3 'garbage day.' But this year it is different. ... I offer my sincere respects for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's brave decision and his courage."

Abe's declaration that he intended to revise the Constitution was given in a video message delivered in his capacity as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at a gathering in Tokyo of those in favor of constitutional amendment. The gathering was sponsored by the nationalist association "Nippon Kaigi" (Japan Conference), to which Yasunori Kagoike, former head of educational institution Moritomo Gakuen, belonged. The Facebook post was accompanied by an image of the gathering, and raved about the prime minister's announcement.

People are free to express any kind of political view on Facebook, but when the top leader of the nation's politics "likes" something, people can't remain indifferent to it.

Was it Abe himself who "liked" the post, or was it a member of his staff. Can we conclude that Abe was expressing his empathy for the post? Considering the possibility that someone may have been posing as Abe, the Mainichi Shimbun sent questions to Abe's office, but received no reply by the set time.

For some time from the end of 2012, when the LDP won the administration back from the then Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Abe made many posts on Facebook.

Facing criticism from then DPJ Secretary-General Goshi Hosono, Abe wrote on June 16, 2013, "You can almost hear the criticism that the DPJ tells lies like it's exhaling." Earlier, in a post on March 14, 2013, he criticized a Mainichi Shimbun article that had taken issue with Abe's comment in the Diet that the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal was a case of "condemnation by the victors." He wrote, "The article's content is plain pathetic. And the photo that's attached shows me with a difficult expression (Is this also manipulation of impressions?)." He thus criticized opposition parties and the media, naming the objects of his disapproval.

Most of Abe's recent posts have been on his foreign trips and other miscellaneous events, and he has made no reference to the alleged favoritism scandals involving western Japan-based school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution. On the other hand, Abe's Facebook account on May 19 "liked" a cultural figure's post that attacked the Asahi Shimbun newspaper's reporting on the Kake scandal, stating, "It could be called speech terrorism. It's not 'reporting' and they're insane." This move similarly created a stir.

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