Parties call for Constitution debate amid global turmoil

Major political parties issued statements Saturday marking the 56th anniversary of the implementation of Japan’s Constitution, with most of them calling for further debate of the nation’s basic law in light of current events and the state of world affairs.

In its statement, the Liberal Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, said future discussions should focus on Article 9, given the tensions in Northeast Asia and changes in Japan’s contribution to international affairs.

Under Article 9, Japan renounces war as a means of settling international disputes.

New Komeito, one of the LDP’s two coalition partners, said Japan should consider making an active contribution to international affairs as a country with a pacifist Constitution.

The nation should consider the matter in light of today’s global situation and avoid either hastily revising the Constitution or rigidly refusing to change it, the party said.

The other coalition partner, the New Conservative Party, also talked about reviewing the present charter, given the ambiguity over the issue of collective defense in relation to the Constitution.

The government has explained for decades that the Constitution bans Japan from exercising the right to collective defense, or to fight an enemy that has attacked an ally.

Most opposition parties were close to the ruling parties’ position as far as the need for discussions is concerned.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan said it will push for further debate on the Constitution.

The Liberal Party said it is resolved to creating a new constitution, pointing out that Japan is confronted with problems that were not anticipated when the constitution was drawn up.

The Japanese Communist Party, however, called on the public to retain the current Constitution, noting that many Japanese voiced their opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

The Social Democratic Party said it is also resolved to protecting the Constitution.

The current Constitution went into effect on May 3, 1947.