The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) decided on May 24 to appoint 10 more senior party officials, including Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai and Executive Acting Secretary General Hakubun Shimomura, to join its Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution (chaired by Okiharu Yasuoka). This is meant to reinforce the organization of the headquarters, which will take the lead in the discussions for drawing up constitutional revision proposals before the end of this year.
The headquarters held a general meeting on the same day to listen to the opinions of international law scholars on the right to self-defense, kicking off vigorous deliberations on the proposal of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president) to revise Article 9 of the Constitution.
At the general meeting on May 24, Yasuoka expressed his intent to “step up the debate under a regime of party unity and work very hard to achieve constitutional revision and hold a referendum as soon as possible.”
Under the new headquarters leadership, Shimomura and special assistant to the president Yasutoshi Nishimura, who are both close to Abe, will serve as assistant to the chairman and assistant to the secretary general, respectively. Leading party members, including Nikai, General Council Chairman Hiroyuki Hosoda, and LDP caucus chair in the House of Councillors Seiko Hashimoto, were named as advisers.
Yasuoka told reporters that in the actual debate from now on, “efforts will be made to consult with the relevant parties in a timely manner when dealing with concrete issues.” Discussions in the headquarters so far have centered on about 10 of its executives, such as Yasuoka, its secretary general Yoko Kamikawa, and deputy chairmen Gen Nakatani and Masaharu Nakagawa, who are also directors in the Lower House and Upper House Commissions on the Constitution, respectively. Yasuoka’s remark indicates that the new members of the headquarters leadership will also be involved in the deliberations.
While Vice President Masahiko Komura and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, who objects to Abe’s constitutional revision proposals, will continue to serve as the headquarters’ advisers, Abe has asked Komura to lead the discussions, and there is a proposal for him to be responsible for consultations with Komeito and others.
Abe has proposed to add a constitutional provision to serve as the legal basis for the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). At his meeting with Abe on May 22, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi asserted that “the debate during the process of establishing the security laws will be the basis” of the constitutional revision proposal, thus implying that there should be no change in the interpretation of Article 9 with regard to the right to self-defense.
In a speech delivered in Fukuoka City on May 24, Komura explained, “The scope of the SDF’s operations will not be expanded even if a constitutional provision is added and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9 are retained.” He stressed that the current constitutional interpretation will not change.