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Interview: Japanese lawmaker wants opposition camp to lead Constitution talks

Tokyo, Aug. 19 (Jiji Press)–Japanese opposition parties should lead parliamentary discussions on constitutional amendment, opposition lawmaker Shiori Yamao said in a recent interview. 

“By making constructive proposals, opposition parties should provide points of contention to the public and lead discussions,” said Yamao, head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s research council on the Constitution.

Major opposition parties, including the CDPJ, have refused calls from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for discussions on constitutional reform out of concerns about the possibility of “extremely rough” proceedings, she said.

 Abe has been pushing to amend the Constitution to clarify the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9, its war-renouncing clause. Yamao said Abe’s explanations that the move will cause no changes in the SDF’s missions and power is “clearly misleading.”

“Stipulating the SDF’s existence without controlling its functions would highly likely result in all functions being tolerated under the Constitution,” she said.

“The enactment of national security legislation expanded the gap between the ideal sought by Article 9 and the reality in terms of national security,” Yamao said.

The CDPJ seeks to create a constitution that can control power, she said.

Discussions on constitutional amendment should be on limiting the prime minister’s right to dissolve the House of Representatives, the all-important lower chamber of parliament, convening a parliamentary session based on a request by a small number of lawmakers and on establishing a constitutional court to judge whether the government abides by the Constitution, Yamao said.

 Abe aims to put a revised constitution into force next year.

If polite discussions take place as pledged by Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, “an amendment in one year will be impossible,” Yamao said.

“For building trust between the ruling and opposition parties, the timeframe should be withdrawn,” she said.

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