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Politicians open debate on Article 96

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

The ruling and opposition camps exchanged views Thursday on revising Article 96, which defines the criteria for amending the Constitution, a goal of the Liberal Democratic Party.

It is the first time the Lower House Commission on the Constitution has weighed changes to Article 96 since its inception in 2007. The LDP, which wants to lower the hurdle for passing amendments, may put a pledge to revise the article in its manifesto for the House of Councilors election in July.

The LDP argues the two-thirds majority required in both chambers of the Diet to launch a national referendum, as called for by Article 96, has hampered revision since its promulgation in 1946. In the referendum, only a simple majority is needed to amend the Constitution in the current system.

The ruling party is calling for the same margin of victory in both Diet chambers.

“Some worry Japan’s supreme law would be revised every time the government changes, but we still have to go through a national referendum,” said Hajime Funada of the LDP.

While some parties agree the Constitution should be revised from time to time to reflect societal changes, the Democratic Party of Japan criticized the LDP for focusing on the procedural steps for revision without considering what shape a new Constitution would ultimately take.

The LDP’s junior coalition partner, New Komeito, also stressed the need for care in altering Article 96. The party, whose support base is the Buddhist group Soka Gakkai, is against revising war-renouncing Article 9, which is the LDP’s ultimate aim.

Eager to one day partner with the LDP, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) was one of the few to back the LDP, saying that the current Constitution has shortcoming that should be rectified by lowering the hurdle to change.

  • eric

    Change to the constitution should be difficult!