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Battle lines drawn between pro- and anti-Constitutional revision forces

Although the survey conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun on the initial phase of the House of Councillors election campaign showed that the ruling parties are on track to win a majority of the seats being contested (61), whether they will be able to secure a two-thirds majority that will enable the submission of motions for constitutional amendment will depend on the results in the hotly contested constituencies. While the ruling parties are making every effort to boost their candidates in these districts, the opposition parties are also trying desperately to go on the offensive, with the goal of stopping the ruling parties from winning a two-thirds majority.


With Initiatives from Osaka [Osaka Ishin no Kai] (holding 5 seats) and Party for Japanese Kokoro (3 seats) also in favor of constitutional revision, the ruling parties will only have to win 78 seats to command a two-thirds majority. Since there are also independent Upper House members not up for election this time who favor constitutional amendment, “the actual hurdle is even lower,” according to a senior Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) official. This official explained that “to approach the two-thirds majority, we must win in the closely contested constituencies without fail. Winning in the hotly contested single-seat districts will bring us closer to a two-thirds majority.”


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has so far avoided mentioning constitutional revision in his campaign speeches based on the judgment that “there is no need to go along with the opposition’s strategy to make this a point of contention,” according to an aide. However, a senior LDP official is concerned that “if the Prime Minister maintains silence, the conservative votes may go to Osaka Ishin and other parties.”


Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP’s coalition partner Komeito, is also negative about making the constitution an issue. Another party official pointed out that “our priority is to appeal on economic policy, improvement of social welfare, and other issues closer to peoples’ lives.”


On the other hand, the opposition is increasingly critical of Abe, alleging that he will move to revise Article 9 after the Upper House election. During a street corner speech in Sagamihara City on June 23, Democratic Party leader Katsuya Okada asserted that “it is really dangerous to discuss constitutional revision under Mr. Abe. It will become possible to send the Self-Defense Forces (overseas) to fight alongside U.S. forces.” (Slightly abridged)

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