The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has decided to forego prior consultations with coalition partner Komeito and single-handedly submit the constitutional revision proposals drafted by the party last March on four issues to the extraordinary Diet session to be convened in late October. The proposed provisions will be presented to the Commissions on the Constitution of both houses of the Diet, aiming to start off deliberations by all parties.
Former Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura, who has been unofficially named to chair the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, met with former Vice President Masahiko Komura, who is now the headquarters’ supreme adviser, at the LDP headquarters on Oct. 4. They agreed to forego prior consultations with Komeito and present the proposed provisions to the Commissions on the Constitution.
These provisions concern four issues: 1) a legal basis for the existence of the Self-Defense Forces; 2) response to emergencies; 3) elimination of joint electoral districts for the House of Councillors; and 4) improvement of education.
The LDP regards these as “envisioned provisions.” It plans to finalize draft constitutional amendment proposals after making revisions through discussions with the other parties in order to build a broad consensus.
At a news conference held after his election for a third term as LDP president on Sept. 20, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that proposed provisions would be submitted to the Diet after coordination by the ruling parties.
However, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi has consistently rejected the idea of prior consultations between the ruling parties in light of negative views in his party on constitutional revision.
For this reason, there has been a growing opinion in the LDP that “the debate will go more smoothly if all parties present their views openly at the Commissions on the Constitution,” according to an officer of the Constitutional Revision Headquarters. At his meeting with Komura on Oct. 3, Abe also issued instructions to present the LDP’s proposed provisions to the Diet on its own.
The LDP is aiming at drawing up draft constitutional revision proposals reflecting the views of various parties for the submission of a motion for constitutional amendment to the Diet with the support of a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet before the House of Councillors election next summer.
However, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and most other opposition parties are against the LDP’s constitutional revision proposals. They are poised to seek a thorough deliberation on amendments to the National Referendum Law, which stipulates the procedures for constitutional amendment, at the extraordinary Diet session. The problem for the LDP will be how to create the environment to start the constitutional revision debate. (Slightly abridged)