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LDP restarts “meeting for dialogue” for constitutional reform

(Asahi: February 22, 2015 – p. 4)

 

 The ruling Liberal Democratic Party held on Feb. 21 in the city of Morioka “a meeting for dialogue” on constitutional amendment, which has been suspended due to the House of Representatives election late last year. The LDP resumed the meeting because it assumes that even if approval by more than two-thirds all members of each Diet chamber is secured, the hurdle for obtaining a majority in a national referendum is high. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the LDP have started making vigorous efforts for “addressing public opinion.”

 

 During the meeting in Morioka, Yosuke Isozaki, an aide of Abe’s and the secretariat of the LDP constitutional reform promotion headquarters, told about 200 party members and supporters: “We hope to hold the first round of a national referendum before the end of next year. We want to hold it in the spring of the year after next at the latest.” He indicated that after the House of Councillors election next summer the LDP will propose constitutional reform to the Diet in order to pave the way for a national referendum.

 

 Isozaki added: “We want to give the public a taste of constitutional amendment once. If the people think that constitutional amendment is not so frightening, from the second time onward we will attempt to achieve more difficult amendments.” In the first round of referendums, the LDP will likely conduct a referendum on environment rights and emergency clauses for which it will be easy to obtain approval and present difficult issues such as Article 9 of the Constitution in the second and later rounds.

 

 The LDP is making an effort to address public opinion because Abe stated (at a Lower House Budget Committee session on Feb. 20) that “we are in the final stage of making a decision on what items to put to a national referendum or propose.”

 

 The LDP’s action plan for 2015 stipulates that the party will promote reform of the Constitution while securing understanding from people from all walks of life.” The LDP has held 20 forums on the Constitution across the nation since last April. The party intends to hold such a forum in each prefecture eventually. It will publish as early as April a manga targeting housewives who are now raising children. (Slightly abridged)

 

 LDP’s planned schedule for constitutional reform

From January 2015

Regular Diet session

 

Work of narrowing down reform items will start at Lower House Constitution Commission.

September 2015

LDP presidential election

Fall 2015

Extraordinary Diet session

From January 2016

Regular Diet session

 

Draft constitutional reform will be drawn up after consultations between political parties.

Summer 2016

Upper House election

Fall 2016

Extraordinary Diet session

 

Constitutional reform by approval of two-thirds majority in both Diet chambers will be submitted to the Diet.

From 2016 to spring of 2017

National referendum on constitutional reform

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