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LDP, DP mull appointment of lawmakers to lead constitution debate in Diet

There is great interest in the appointment of officials by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Democratic Party (DP) to take charge of the constitution issue ahead of the start of the constitutional revision debate when the extraordinary Diet session convenes this fall. This is because the officials in charge of the top ruling and opposition parties play a significant role in determining the schedule and agenda of the Commissions on the Constitution in both houses of the Diet, where the debate is taking place.


One of the key issues in the reshuffle of the cabinet and LDP leadership on Aug. 3 is whether Eisuke Mori, chairman of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Constitutional Revision, will be retained. The headquarters chair usually also serves as the ruling parties’ principal director in the Lower House Commission on the Constitution, who is responsible for negotiating with the DP.


Mori has long experience working on labor issues, so he has connections with Rengo (Japan Trade Union Confederation), the DP’s main support group. He is thought to be the ideal person for this job and it is hoped that he demonstrates his skill in consensus building with the DP. Mori himself is also keen on continuing in this position in order to discuss constitutional provisions that need to be amended with the DP.


However, Mori has little experience in the deliberations on constitutional revision. Certain LDP members are calling for the appointment of an official who actively supports constitutional amendment.


On the other hand, former Upper House President Satsuki Eda, chair of the DP’s research commission on the constitution, is retiring when his term as Upper House member expires on July 25.


DP President Katsuya Eda told the press in Tsu City on July 23 that there is no rule that party officials need to be Diet members. “My understanding is (Mr. Eda) will continue to serve in this position,” thus indicating he wants Eda to stay on.


Okada is not keen on constitutional revision, so he wants Eda, who is also not in favor of amendment, to continue to serve as commission chair as a private citizen in order to deter proponents of constitutional revision in the party. However, the new commission chief will be appointed by the next party president, who will be elected on Sept. 7. The DP’s members range from those who want to preserve the current constitution to those favoring the amendment of Article 9. Many express the concern that appointments to the constitution commission “may trigger rifts in the party.” (Slightly abridged)

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