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Interview: LDP open to debate on opposition constitution proposals

  • October 15, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 4:59 p.m.
  • English Press
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Tokyo, Oct. 15 (Jiji Press)–Liberal Democratic Party Election Strategy Committee Chairman Hakubun Shimomura has indicated that the Japanese ruling party is ready to discuss Constitution-linked topics taken up by opposition forces.

“Opposition parties should bring up what they want in order to promote discussions” because debates at the commissions on the constitution of both chambers of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, are “free discussions,” Shimomura said in a recent interview with Jiji Press.

On his remark indicating that same-sex marriage could be among the topics to be discussed for constitutional amendments, Shimomura said he made such a comment to facilitate discussions by opposition forces if they want to establish such a right.

He himself is not an enthusiastic promoter of such a right for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, sexual minorities, he said.

Opposition parties should comment confidently at the constitutional panels why they oppose constitutional amendments, he went on to say.

Asked about how the LDP will carry out constitutional reform, Shimomura noted that he created a task force in each single-seat constituency for the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, when he chaired the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision of the Constitution and told the task forces to proceed with constitutional debates.

“There are still many (task forces) that have not done so. I’d like to urge them again to promote (discussions),” he said.

Shimomura suggested that he is flexible on when to revise the top law, after being asked whether constitutional amendments should be implemented before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s term of office as LDP president expires in September 2021.

“I don’t care (about the timing), but I wonder if discussions should continue like ‘odawara hyojo’ indecisive debates,” he said.

He said it is important, for the sake of democracy, to hold a national referendum on constitutional revision if related discussions are concluded at an early date.

“We’d hope to propose (constitutional amendments) within two years, but the deadline doesn’t come first,” Shimomura also said.

Regarding education administration, Shimomura noted that the LDP included enhancement of education in its four-point constitutional reform initiative. “We want to state in the Constitution that education is significant” to make Japan an education-oriented nation, he said.

On the Tokyo gubernatorial election next summer, he said the LDP will make a related decision while watching the movements of the party’s Tokyo chapter.

“The earlier the conclusion is made the better, but we need a candidate everybody can support,” he continued.

After a series of cases of misconduct by LDP lawmakers who were recruited publicly, Shimomura admitted that candidates cannot be evaluated comprehensively merely on the basis of interviews and documents.

“We’d like to support, as the election strategy committee, lawmakers struggling after being recruited publicly and help locals cultivate them,” he said.

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