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INTERVIEW: LDP official seeks Diet debate on constitution reform

Tokyo, Aug. 13 (Jiji Press) — Hakubun Shimomura, a senior Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker leading the ruling party’s task force promoting constitutional amendments, has shown eagerness to start debate on revisions to the Constitution at an extraordinary parliamentary session to be convened in September.

“The LDP wants to explain its own four-point reform proposal” at the Diet, Japan’s parliament, Shimomura said. “It is desirable to exchange opinions on what parties are willing or unwilling to discuss at the commissions on the Constitution of both chambers of the Diet and narrow down the list of themes for debate,” he added.

Shimomura was speaking to Jiji Press as Prime Minister and LDP President Shinzo Abe, heartened by the ruling coalition winning a majority in the House of Councillors in last month’s election, hopes to promote constitutional reform debate at the upcoming session.

Shimomura said he believes that the fact that forces supporting constitutional reform failed to secure a two-thirds majority in the 245-seat Upper House in the election, the minimum required for the chamber to propose a constitutional revision, may be a good thing from the perspective of promoting debate on the Constitution.

“The election results came short of what the opposition had been fearful of, making it easier for them to take part in debate,” Shimomura said.

Asked whether the LDP is ready to exercise flexibility in changing its revision proposal through discussion with other parties, he said, “The LDP hopes to create a draft jointly with other parties in the course of discussion” at the parliamentary commissions.

To enact revisions to the national referendum law for constitutional amendments, he said the LDP should listen to ideas of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and others as to how stricter restrictions on television commercials for such national referendum can be incorporated.

But Shimomura said taking one or two years to discuss the issue alone is not acceptable.

Shimomura encouraged Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, to withstand criticism within his own party against his positive stance on debate on constitutional reform.

The LDP lawmaker said, “I wonder why Tamaki was criticized,” noting that “he is saying not that he supports the LDP’s proposal, but that he will discuss constitutional amendments.”

Asked what he has to say to the CDPJ, the largest opposition party, Shimomura said it is only natural for a country based on the Constitution to discuss constitutional reform under any administration. “I think that rejecting such debate under the Abe administration contradicts the spirit of constitutionalism,” he said.

Shimomura said the LDP will make efforts to realize Abe’s wish to enforce a revised constitution next year. The LDP will strive to win cooperation from other parties so as to propose constitutional revision, he said.

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