(Sankei: February 8, 2015 – top play)
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) revealed its draft road map for constitutional revision on Feb. 7. The first subjects for constitutional amendment will be selected during the extraordinary Diet session this fall and draft amendments will be presented to the regular Diet session next year, with the aim of submitting a motion for constitutional revision to the extraordinary Diet session after the House of Councillors election. A national referendum on the amendments will be held in 2017. This road map was drawn up by the LDP headquarters for the promotion of constitutional revision (chaired by Hajime Funada), and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president) has basically approved this schedule.
According to this proposal, the LDP will work on narrowing down the constitutional provisions that need to be revised during the current Diet session.
Submitting a motion for amendment will require a two-thirds majority support in both houses of the Diet. Therefore, the Commission on the Constitution in both chambers will also conduct their debate meticulously, getting input from the opposition parties, while the LDP proceeds with its deliberation. The LDP plans to complete the process of identifying the first batch of provisions to be revised at the extraordinary Diet session this fall.
Subsequently, members of the Commissions on the Constitution and the liaison committee of the political parties will start drafting the amendments. The road map calls for submitting the proposed amendments to the regular Diet session convening in January 2016, after which full-fledged deliberations will commence at the Commissions on the Constitution.
However, a motion for amendment will not be submitted before the Upper House election in summer 2016. Public opinion on constitutional revision will be closely watched.
If the election results in majority support for constitutional amendment in the Upper House, a motion will be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session to be held after the election with two-thirds majority support in both houses of the Diet.
Since the time required for informing the public from the submission of the motion to the referendum for a final decision on the constitutional amendment is reckoned to take two to six months, the first referendum is expected to take place not later than 2017.
Abe has given his basic approval to the road map. At his meeting with Funada and his colleagues on Feb. 4, he said: “I will not say anything about the constitutional provisions that need to be amended. It is better to conduct the official debate on the selection of the first batch of provisions rigorously in the Commissions on the Constitution.”