The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will resume work on Sept. 12 to draft constitutional revision proposals before the end of this year. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was aiming at promulgating a new constitution in 2020, he is now saying that “there is no predetermined schedule,” in light of the LDP’s crushing defeat in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July. However, the LDP will not delay the process of building consensus and has not changed its goal of submitting constitutional amendment motions to the Diet next year.
Vice President Masahiko Komura, who is leading the LDP’s constitutional debate, explained during a speech in late August: “If motions are not submitted to the regular Diet session next year, there will not be enough time to promulgate a new constitution in 2020. We will submit our proposals to the Commissions on the Constitution of both houses of the Diet during the extraordinary session this year for discussion with the other parties.”
Komura also pointed out early this month that with the forces in favor of constitutional revision, including Komeito and Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party], holding a two-thirds majority in the Lower and Upper Houses at present, “it will be easier to submit motions under the current balance of power.” He stressed that the LDP will aim at submitting the motions before the term of office of the Lower House members expires in late 2018.
The LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution will hold a plenary meeting for the first time in about 40 days on Sept. 12 to discuss the revision of Article 9. Another meeting will be held on Sept. 20 to talk about adding state-of-emergency provisions. The party is speeding up the consensus-building process in order to draft the concrete provisions, including those on free higher education and the elimination of combined House of Councillors electoral districts, by November.
Meanwhile, Komeito, which holds the key in the constitutional debate, remains cautious. A senior party official made it clear that “this is not a simple issue of submitting the motions just because we hold a two-thirds majority” in an effort to restrain the Prime Minister. (Abridged)