The relationship of cooperation between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan Innovation Party [Nippon Ishin] may be clouded over constitutional amendment, as the LDP plans to shelve its plan to expressly stipulate in the Constitution that higher education will be provided for free of charge. Ishin makes free education a pillar of its proposal. Once their relationship gets strained, discussions on the stipulation of the Self-Defense Forces’ existence in the Constitution, which the LDP has long aimed at, might be affected.
The LDP had initially included “free education” in a list of items for amendment to win the support of Ishin in the research commissions on the Constitution in both chambers of parliament. In January, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president) expressed his positive stance toward the idea of making higher education free in his policy speech delivered in the ordinary Diet session. This sparked intra-party discussions to consider the topic to be included in constitutional amendment.
The LDP defines the stipulation of the SDF as a “centerpiece of constitutional amendment,” according to people close to the prime minister.
But the idea is drawing reservations not only from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) in the opposition force but also from Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner in office. That was why Abe and the LDP leadership drew a scenario of discussing Ishin’s free education proposal to enlist its support for amendments related to Article 9.
But Ishin’s constitutional amendment proposal, which was compiled last year, says that fees on education from early childhood to the tertiary level shall be made free of charge as stipulated by law.”
Among Ishin’s proposed revisions, the LDP will adopt the proposal that “no one shall be deprived of educational opportunities for economic reasons” and call on the government to improve the grant-type scholarship. But it remains to be seen whether Ishin, which clings to the idea of “free education,” will embrace it.