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LDP, Nippon Ishin leaders argue for Article 9 revision

Tokyo, June 18 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Ichiro Matsui, leader of opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), in an online debate Saturday called for clarifying the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Kenta Izumi, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and Kazuo Shii, chief of the Japanese Communist Party, argued against the move.

The online debate, joined by leaders of nine political parties, took place ahead of Wednesday’s start of the official campaign period for the July 10 election for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament.

“It is important to put an end to the debate over whether the SDF is constitutional or unconstitutional,” Kishida, also president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said, stressing the need for the Diet to speed up its work for proposing constitutional revisions to provide the public with an opportunity to show their approval or disapproval.

Matsui, also mayor of the western Japan city of Osaka, said, “The SDF should be stipulated in the Constitution so that it will be recognized by all people in the nation.”

Izumi countered by saying, “The SDF is already capable of performing its role.”

Shii argued that the second sentence in Article 9, which spells out that Japan should never possess military forces, “would lose meaning” if the existence of the SDF is stipulated in the war-renouncing article, adding that the development could lead to the current restrictions on the full-scale exercise of the right to collective self-defense being lifted.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, the coalition partner of the LDP, sounded cautious, saying the view that the SDF is constitutional “has taken root” and that the SDF can play its role even if it is not clarified in the Constitution.

Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the Democratic Party for the People, said it is necessary to clearly indicate whether the scope of the right to self-defense will change in case the SDF is written into the Constitution.

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