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Editorial: Abe must show strategy for economy, diplomacy and constitutional revision

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe needs to sum up his more than five and a half years of managing the government and unveil the policies to which he would attach priority during his next term of office as Liberal Democratic Party president.

 

The prime minister has shown his eagerness to seek a third consecutive term as LDP leader in September’s presidential election. He has made no major error in political management, and he has maintained a certain approval rating. His eagerness to stay in power is understandable.

 

The LDP leadership race will likely be fought as a one-on-one contest between Abe and former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, who has already announced his candidacy for president.

 

During a recent speech, Abe expressed his wish to submit a set of LDP-drafted constitutional amendments to the next Diet session, saying, “Mere discussions [about revising the Constitution] should not be continued forever.” He also showed his intention to make constitutional revision a point of issue to be debated in the presidential race.

 

The LDP has formed its views about a four-item set of constitutional amendments, including revisions to Article 9, but the LDP’s idea has not been discussed at the Commission on the Constitution, a committee set up in each chamber of the Diet, due to objections from opposition parties. The prime minister’s aim is to generate greater momentum for revising the supreme law through the presidential election.

 

What kind of process should be followed in promoting debates on revising the Constitution while gaining the understanding of the people? The prime minister must devise a detailed strategy for achieving his objective, while considering such matters as next year’s House of Councillors election and his diplomatic schedule.

 

It is significant to write the existence of the Self-Defense Forces into the Constitution, thereby sweeping away the argument that the SDF are unconstitutional. It is also an important measure to create an emergency clause aimed at enabling the government to protect the lives and property of the people in the event of a large-scale disaster.

 

Eliminate arrogance

 

It is important to thrash out the specific draft text of proposed amendments in the presidential race. That will enhance the understanding of the public.

 

The LDP must make efforts to reach a consensus with more and more opposition parties, even listening modestly to the opinion of the minority.

 

It is also hoped that constructive debates will be conducted regarding domestic issues and diplomatic relations.

 

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which promotes protectionist policies, is increasing pressure on Japan in trade talks. Japan’s trade policy has faced a critical juncture.

Ending deflation has not yet been achieved. The prime minister needs to examine the Abenomics economic policy package and adopt measures conducive to sustainable growth.

 

With a view to resolving the abduction issue, the prime minister has shown a positive stance on holding direct negotiations between the Japanese and North Korean top leaders. It is essential to cautiously promote bilateral dialogue while closely looking at U.S.-North Korean talks over denuclearization.

 

In the presidential election, the prime minister’s attitude toward politics will also be called into question. People are sternly looking at the problems tied to private school operator Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution.

 

In his speech, the prime minister said, “I’d like to apologize for undermining public confidence due to various problems surrounding administrative activities.”

 

Delays in sweeping away such suspicions are partly because of thoughtless speech and conduct by the prime minister and figures close to him. It is important for him to eliminate the arrogance that has grown during his extended time at the helm of the government and show that he will sincerely strive to implement his policies.

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