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Constitutional revision likely to divert from Abe’s envisioned schedule

There is now a strong likelihood that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposed schedule of submitting the Liberal Democratic Party’s constitutional revision proposals to the extraordinary Diet session this fall may not be followed.

 

Abe stressed at his news conference on Aug. 3 that this schedule is “not a foregone conclusion.” With cabinet support ratings sagging and his leadership weakening, he is now thinking of thorough discussions in the LDP on constitutional revision, if only to avoid a public backlash.

 

At the LDP executive meeting on Aug. 3, Vice President Masahiko Komura told Abe: “Leave the constitution debate to the party; the cabinet should give top priority to the economy.” Abe responded with: “Of course.”

 

The new LDP executives emphasized at their inaugural news conference on Aug. 3 that the debate will be handled with great care. Komura said: “While it would be desirable to submit the LDP’s proposals to the extraordinary Diet session, we will closely watch the mood in the other parties and among the people.”

 

Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, who is cautious about constitutional revision, pointed out that “it is important to hold thorough discussions.”

 

With the reshuffle of the LDP leadership, key members of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution will also be replaced. Yoko Kamikawa, who has served as its secretary general, is now the minister of justice. Masaharu Nakagawa, deputy chair of the headquarters, has been appointed as the environment minister, while Yasutoshi Nishimura, who had just been named assistant to the secretary general during the appointment of additional executives in May, has moved on to become deputy chief cabinet secretary. A senior official of the headquarters said: “We will have to make organizational and schedule changes.”

 

Cooperation with Komeito will remain a problem. After his party leaders’ meeting with Abe on Aug. 3, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told reporters: “We will watch the debate in the LDP.”

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