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POLITICS > Elections

Constitutional reform camp increases lower house seats

  • November 4, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 10:30 a.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Nov. 4 (Jiji Press)–Four Japanese political parties believed to be positive on constitutional reforms, including the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, secured more than two-thirds of the 465 seats on the House of Representatives in Sunday’s general election for the lower chamber of the Diet, the country’s parliament.

The other two parties are Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People.


Nippon Ishin, which saw the number of its Lower House seats almost quadruple to 41 from 11 in the general election, is expected to call for kick-starting stalled Diet debates on overhauling the Constitution at an extraordinary session that is seen to be convened later this year and next year’s regular Diet session.


“I will work hard for constitutional reforms, a major policy of our party, and aim to deepen discussions so that we can obtain support from two-thirds or more (of the lawmakers in both chambers of the Diet) beyond the boundaries of the ruling and opposition parties,” Prime Minister and LDP president Fumio Kishida told a press conference Monday.


The Diet can propose amendments to the Constitution with concurring votes from two-thirds or more of all members in each of the Lower House and the House of Councillors, the upper chamber.


The LDP, Komeito, Nippon Ishin and the DPFP now together have 345 seats in the Lower House, up from their combined pre-election strength of 324 seats.


In the election, the LDP won 261 seats, maintaining a so-called absolute stable majority that gives it a firm grip of the chamber, although the figure was down from 276 seats before the poll.


The number of Lower House seats increased to 32 from 29 for Komeito and to 11 from eight for the DPFP.


Kishida said before the election that it would be impossible for the constitutional reform camp to win the two-thirds majority of 310 or more seats in the Lower House.


The LDP has remained the biggest force in the Lower House, while Nippon Ishin and the DPFP rose to third and fifth, respectively. Komeito ranks fourth.



On the other hand, parties cautious about constitutional amendments suffered setbacks in the general election. Of them, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan reduced the number of its seats to 96 from 110 although the party has remained the second-biggest force in the chamber. The Japanese Communist Party also saw a decrease in its seats, to 10 from 12.


CDP leader Yukio Edano is set to resign from the post to take responsibility for the party’s poor election result.


A national referendum law amendment aimed at improving voter convenience in a possible referendum on constitutional revisions was enacted in June, three years after it was submitted to the Diet.


The four parties supporting reform of the supreme law already have more than two-thirds of the Upper House seats.


The LDP and Nippon Ishin are expected to increase their calls for the start of work to come up with a draft bill to amend the Constitution.


“We will steadily promote debates on constitutional reforms,” a senior LDP official said.


“A constitutional revision bill should be formulated by the time an Upper House election is held (in the summer of) next year, and a national referendum on constitutional amendments should take place simultaneously with the election,” Nippon Ishin leader Ichiro Matsui said at a press conference Tuesday.


Still, it remains unclear if the Diet will actually propose constitutional revisions, because gaps exist in the constitutional reform camp.


For example, the LDP gives weight to setting up an article on actions to be taken in times of emergency and clarifying the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.


But Komeito remains cautious over both items.


Kishida said during the LDP leadership race in September that he would aim to realize constitutional revisions before his term of office as party president ends. But many in the LDP wonder to what extent the party leader is serious about the matter.

Kishida seldom referred to the issue during the campaigning for the Lower House general election.

At the press conference Monday, he pointed to the importance of activities aimed at securing people’s understanding for constitutional revisions.

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