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Interview with JCP Chairman Shii on the Constitution


Interviewed by Ryoji Fukazawa


The following is an interview with Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Chairman Kazuo Shii on the Constitution.


Question: What is your stance on the Constitution?


Kazuo Shii: All clauses including the preamble should be strictly observed. Particularly, I want peaceful and democratic clauses to be fully implemented. The Constitution has pioneering content, such as the sovereignty of the people, permanent pacifism, fundamental human rights, parliamentary democracy, and local autonomy. But the actual politics are far from the ideals. What needs to be changed is politics, not the Constitution.


Q: How do you view the current constitutional debate in the Diet?


Shii: We must not downplay Prime Minister Abe’s obsession to amend Article 9. But it’s also true that things are not going as the prime minister expected. Things won’t progress unless the prime minister takes the initiative. But if he does, he will come under heavy fire. I think it’s a serious dilemma. Amid that situation, a senior official of the Liberal Democratic Party publicly stated that the Commissions on the Constitution would operate “wildly.” I think it’s important to form a majority of the public who say, “The revision of Article 9 by the Abe government can’t be tolerated.” I think opposition parties share this stance, and I’ll emphasize it in the Upper House election as well.


Q: What is the problem with the LDP’s draft clause to clarify the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces?


Shii: There are two major problems. One is that the draft says, “The provisions of the preceding clause shall not preclude the implementation of necessary self-defense measures” by adding a new clause, or Article 9-2. The SDF has been under tight restriction due to its relationship with Paragraph 2 of Article 9, which bans Japan from possessing any war potential. But the word “shall not preclude” will allow unrestricted overseas deployment of troops.


The other problem is that the draft says, “The conduct of the Self-Defense Forces shall be in accord with Diet approval and other controls, as provided by law.” This will allow anything to be done if the party in the majority at the time creates laws in the Diet.


Q: Why do you regard the SDF as unconstitutional?


Shii: Because the existing SDF is “war potential,” which is banned by Paragraph 2 of Article 9. Anyone can see that. But the existing unconstitutionality can’t be rectified immediately. Phased measures are necessary to steadily bring the status quo closer to the large ideals of Article 9 with the public’s agreement.


I believe we can start [considering the addition of the legal status of the SDF] only when the environment surrounding Japan matures peacefully and the overwhelming majority of the public fully agrees that “we’re safe enough without the SDF.” I have a vision that even if we join the government, we’ll coexist with the SDF for a certain period.


Q: What are your thoughts on the imperial system?


Shii: The system has a major problem from the perspective of the equality of human beings and democracy because it enables one individual to become the symbol of the nation by heredity. But the JCP’s platform stipulates that it’s the public who decides whether or not to continue the imperial system as long as the system is constitutional. We’re pursuing the establishment of a political system under a democratic republic. But that doesn’t mean we’ll work or fight to abolish the imperial system.


What’s most important is to strictly observe the restrictive regulation that says the Emperor “does not have political powers” and to rigidly refrain from using the Emperor for political purposes. The former emperor was consistent in abiding by and defending the Constitution. In that regard, I have respect for the former emperor. I think his approach was different from the Showa emperor’s.


Q: What do you think about allowing a female emperor or an emperor of female lineage?


Shii: I think the issue deserves consideration and want it to be discussed thoroughly.


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