Komeito is in a fix over wording on constitutional revision in its campaign pledges for the upcoming House of Representatives election, with the official campaign period starting on Oct. 10 and voting taking place on Oct. 22. The party has advocated kaken [adding new constitutional provisions] in past national elections. However, it is now wary of being seen as falling in step with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-initiated constitutional revision.
Party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi gave the following comments on constitutional revision at a news conference on Sept. 21: “None of the parties have presented clear proposals to the Diet yet. Not much progress has been made in the Diet debate and the situation is such that we have not presented the options to the people,” indicating that this issue would not be an appropriate campaign issue for the Lower House election.
In its campaign pledges for the previous Lower House election in 2014, Komeito had advocated kaken, calling for new provisions on the “existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF)” and “environmental rights.” With regard to the SDF, it advocated “upholding Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9 and deliberating provisions on the SDF’s existence and international contribution.” Its position was basically the same as the proposal of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president) for the revision of Article 9.
However, with regard to campaign pledges for the upcoming election, there is growing concern in the party that “giving the impression of rushing the constitutional debate may cause a backlash from the public, resulting in a tough election campaign,” according to a veteran lawmaker. A senior party official confided, “Since we cannot possibly retract our previous advocacy of kaken, we are racking our brains over the wording of the campaign pledges.”
The LDP intends to make constitutional revision proposals, such as new provisions on the SDF, a campaign issue in the election since it is aiming at submitting constitutional amendment motions to the regular Diet session next year. On the other hand, Komeito is reluctant about submitting motions next year and would like to avoid taking up this issue in the campaign.