New York, Sept. 25 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday expressed hopes for active discussions on constitutional amendments to be held at an extraordinary session of the Diet, the country’s parliamentary, set to open on Oct. 4.
“Japanese people think that debates on constitutional revisions should be held,” Abe said at a press conference in New York, referring to the ruling bloc’s victory in the July election of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, in which Abe, also head of the Liberal Democratic Party, the nucleus of the coalition, called for revising the supreme law of Japan.
“I want both ruling and opposition parties to put forward their own drafts and hold discussions to meet the people’s expectations at the constitutional panels (of both chambers of the Diet),” Abe said.
On the consumption tax hike from 8 pct to 10 pct at the beginning of October, Abe stressed, “If risks become evident, we’ll take all possible measures (to underpin the economy) flexibly without hesitation.”
He ruled out the possibility of dissolving the House of Representatives, the all-important lower chamber of the Diet, for a snap general election. Such an option is “neither in the corner nor at the center of my mind,” Abe said, adding, “I want to fulfill my responsibility to the public by devoting myself to producing results on challenges both at home and abroad one by one.”
As for Japan-South Korea relations, which have been strained due to wartime labor and other issues, Abe said, “We’ve dealt with the situation based on our stance that the bilateral tensions should not affect security cooperation” among the two Asian neighbors and the United States.
“We’ll continue calling on South Korea to keep its promises,” Abe said, reiterating Tokyo’s position that Seoul should take actions to resolve the issue of South Koreans who were requisitioned to work for Japanese companies during World War II.
In rulings handed down last year, South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered some Japanese firms to pay compensation to such wartime laborers. The Japanese government takes the position that the wartime labor issue was settled by a 1965 bilateral agreement on property and rights.
Abe underscored Japan’s resolve to continue diplomatic efforts to help avoid a military clash in the Middle East, where tensions are rising further following drone attacks on crude oil facilities in Saudi Arabia earlier this month. “We’ll make all-out efforts to ease the tensions, and realize peace and stability in the region, such as by tenaciously continuing dialogue,” Abe said.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump claims that Iran was behind the Saudi attacks.
In his speech during the general debate at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Abe criticized the attacks as a “contemptible” crime while stopping short of specifying who was responsible for the act of sabotage.