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POLITICS

Interview with Nippon Ishin chief on PM Abe’s constitutional revision plan

  • May 14, 2017
  • , Nikkei , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

Q: What do you think of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s constitutional revision proposals?

 

Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party] leader Ichiro Matsui: They reflect his strong desire to revise the Constitution while he is in office. It is odd that certain Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members are objecting because constitutional revision is a basic policy of the party.

 

Q: What do you think of the proposal to retain Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9 and add an explicit provision on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF)?

 

Matsui: We want to debate this issue straightforwardly. Whether the new provision will not contradict Paragraph 2, which stipulates that Japan will never maintain any war potential, should be discussed in depth. The SDF is a military no matter how you look at it. The new provision should state unequivocally that Japan will “maintain adequate military capability to protect the people.”

 

Nippon Ishin advocates free education, the creation of a constitutional court, and decentralization of power. The Prime Minister has indicated his support for free education. The Democratic Party (DP) and the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) are opposed to changing even a single punctuation mark in the Constitution, but it is possible for the LDP, Komeito, and Nippon Ishin to reach a consensus. Motions for constitutional revision should be submitted at an early date for the people to vote on in a referendum.

 

Q: Are you saying there is no need to obtain the DP’s understanding?

 

Matsui: It is useless to waste time dealing with a political party that has abandoned its responsibility. The DP and the JCP are a mutual aid society for elections; we don’t recognize them as political parties. I don’t think anything will come out of discussions with them.

 

Q: The Prime Minister has also mentioned provisions on national emergencies.

 

Matsui: This issue can be dealt with by (regular) laws. We need to be careful when imposing restrictions on individual human rights.

 

Q: When do you think it will be the right time to submit motions for constitutional revision?

 

Matsui: It is necessary to provide careful explanations to the people. Holding a referendum during Prime Minister Abe’s term of office is more important than the date for promulgation.

 

Q: There is an opinion that a referendum should be held simultaneously with a national election.

 

Matsui: A referendum should be held on a single issue. Holding one at the same time as a national election would obscure the issue. There are probably people who are against revising Article 9 even though they support the Abe administration.

 

Q: What do you think of Komeito’s positon on constitutional revision?

 

Matsui: Komeito advocates amending the Constitution by adding new provisions. We would like to engage in discussions if they come up with provisions on environmental rights and other issues.

 

Q: The DP argues that restricting the prime minister’s power to dissolve the Diet is the top priority issue in constitutional revision.

 

Matsui: We are strongly opposed to this. There is no need to deprive the prime minister of the power to dissolve the Diet in order to seek the people’s judgment.

 

Q: There is an opinion that the agreement reached by the LDP, Komeito, and Nippon Ishin on revised amendments to the Law on Punishment of Organized Crimes was meant to lay the groundwork for cooperating in constitutional revision.

 

Matsui: We don’t use such makeshift tactics.

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