The consent of the ruling Komeito and the opposition Kibo no To [Party of Hope] holds the key to the Liberal Democratic Party’s gaining the support of a two-thirds majority for its constitutional revision proposals.
The Party of Hope has shown willingness to discuss the amendment of Article 9. Its leader Yuichiro Tamaki handed out a written instruction at an executive meeting on Nov. 14 to “deepen discussions on the conditions for invoking the right of self-defense and the limitations to the exercise of this right while also imposing constitutional restrictions based on constitutionalism.” The instruction was premised on the addition of provisions on the right of self-defense in Article 9.
While he stressed that emphasis will be on a strict interpretation of the right of self-defense, in an effort to win the understanding of party members who are not keen on Article 9 amendment, House of Representatives member Goshi Hosono, who advocates holding debates on Article 9 amendment, chairs the party’s constitutional revision committee. LDP members are hopeful [about positive results].
However, Lower House member Hiroshi Ogushi, who takes the position that “Article 9 revision is unnecessary,” won 14 votes, or one-fourth of the total number of Kibo Diet members, in the recent party leader election. This illustrated the divisions in the party on the issue of constitutional revision. A mid-ranking member pointed out that “rushing to a conclusion may cause the party to break up.”
Komeito, which favors “adding” constitutional provisions, is taking a wait-and-see approach on the discussions in various parties for the time being. In light of its defeat in the recent Lower House election, it is under pressure from party members and Soka Gakkai, its main support group, to project its distinctive identity. It remains cautious on a constitutional provision on the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF).
Meanwhile, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), the leading opposition party, is adopting a confrontational stance toward the LDP. From the standpoint of upholding constitutionalism, while it is amenable to engaging in debates on such issues as restricting the cabinet’s power to dissolve the Lower House and other ways to limit the government’s powers and protection of the people’s rights, it is opposed to constitutional revision under the Abe cabinet. With regard to the revision of Article 9, it takes the position that “the current security laws are unconstitutional, so it is unacceptable to add provisions on the SDF based on these laws,” according to party leader Yukio Edano. This party is unlikely to compromise with the LDP.