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Interview with Komeito deputy leader on PM Abe’s constitutional revision plan

Q: What do you think of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to add an explicit provision on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in the Constitution?


Komeito deputy leader Kazuo Kitagawa: The Prime Minister has said that he will uphold Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9. The question of the maximum allowed self-defense measures under Article 9 was discussed during the process of establishing the security laws. Adding an explicit provision on the SDF while maintaining the existing constitutional interpretation is reasonable.


However, whether this is the top priority issue leaves room for discussion. I believe only a minority of the people think that the SDF is unconstitutional. We would like to watch the lively debate in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and wait for them to come up with a proposal.


Q: What will you do if they come up with a proposal that will undermine the interpretation of the strictly defense-oriented policy?


Kitagawa: We will not approve of a proposal that changes the existing constitutional interpretation.


Q: The Prime Minister has set a goal of revising the Constitution by 2020.


Kitagawa: I think this is meant to speed up the debate inside the LDP. Only the Diet can submit motions for constitutional revision. It is necessary to form the broadest possible consensus.


Q: Do you think this will require the understanding of not only Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), which is in favor of constitutional revision, but also the Democratic Party (DP)?


Kitagawa: The understanding of not only Nippon Ishin, but also many other parties, particularly the DP as the No. 1 opposition party, will be necessary.


Q: Is it desirable to hold a referendum at the same time as a national election?


Kitagawa: A House of Representatives election is an election to choose an administration. There could be more than one contentious issue in a House of Councillors election. They are completely different from a referendum for the people to vote yes or no on each proposal. Holding a referendum and an election together would result in confusion among the voters. The ruling and opposition parties were in agreement that a referendum should be held separately during the deliberation process of the referendum law.


Q: Will your support group, Soka Gakkai, approve of revising Article 9?


Kitagawa: Without the Komeito, the UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) Cooperation Law of 1992 and the subsequent security legislation would not have been possible. We had the understanding of our support group. Drawing the line based on support for preserving or revising the Constitution is anachronistic.


Q: What do you think of Nippon Ishin’s proposal to add a constitutional provision on free education?


Kitagawa: Even if a constitutional provision is added, coordination on revenue sources will still be necessary. How will we find funding for education amid the steady increase in social security spending? Even if we add a new provision, it will only be a “policy goal.”

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