The Abe administration’s working on the difficult issue of legislation relating to the Emperor’s abdication may affect the political schedule envisioned by the government in various ways. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to carefully consider the concrete steps.
Abe has about two years left in his term as Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president, which expires in September 2018. Furthermore, the term of office of the current House of Representatives members expires by December 2018. Therefore, he will be steering the administration with the option of dissolving the Lower House for a general election. In addition, the government also envisions the next two years as the period for deliberation on constitutional revision. However, if the debate on the Emperor’s abdication begins, it is possible that this will remain a high priority political issue for a prolonged period of time, using up the administration’s political energy and becoming an obstacle to other tasks.
Since the House of Councillors election in July, Abe has been focusing on constitutional revision as his next project. With the LDP, Komeito, Initiatives from Osaka (Osaka Ishin no Kai), and other forces in favor of constitutional amendment controlling a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet, Abe plans to make efforts to persuade the leading opposition party, the Democratic Party, and move on to identifying the constitution provisions to be revised through deliberations at the Commissions on the Constitution in the two chambers of the Diet.
Abe intends to give priority to consensus building in the Diet and move very carefully in the process of deliberation. Therefore, in light of the Emperor’s expressing his thoughts and the role of the imperial system under the constitution becoming an issue, it is possible that progress in the debate on Abe’s pet issue of constitutional revision may be delayed and discussions may not proceed at the administration’s intended pace.