LDP drafts conservative revisions to Constitution

Kyodo

The Liberal Democratic Party has compiled new proposals for revising the Constitution that more strongly reflect its conservative agenda, including one that would allow the Emperor to be called head of state.

The draft, released Friday, is designed to differentiate the LDP, which spent five decades as virtually the only party in power, from its upstart rival, the Democratic Party of Japan, which took power in 2009 and is wary about amending the charter before the next Lower House poll, which the LDP wants called soon.

The LDP’s proposed amendments include renaming the Self-Defense Forces the national defense forces, and obliging people to respect the Nisshoki, or Hinomaru, as the national flag and “Kimigayo” as the national anthem.

LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki told reporters his party will take the lead in efforts to get Japan to establish a national charter on its own, as opposed to following the current Constitution, which was established in 1947 by the Allied Forces after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

In the draft’s preface, the LDP states that Japan is a country that reveres the Emperor as the symbol of the unity of the people. It then stipulates in its new Article 1 that the Emperor is head of state.

Article 1 of the Constitution states: “The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.”

As for war-renouncing Article 9, the LDP’s draft maintains the paragraph: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

But the LDP then adds that this prescription will not hinder the country’s right to self-defense and would pave the way for Japan to exercise “collective self-defense,” which is unconstitutional under the current charter.

This hitch is reflected in the second paragraph of Article 9, which states: “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

Because of Article 9, the SDF’s legality has long been a focal point of constitutional discussions in political, judicial and academic circles.

As for the national flag and anthem, the Constitution imposes no obligation for the people to respect these symbols. The legality of these designations — as well as the grounds of several school teacher lawsuits — currently lies only in a 1999 law that stipulates the Hinomaru is the national flag and “Kimigayo” is the national anthem.

The LDP intends to table the draft in the Diet before the regular session closes on June 21, but it is unclear whether that will lead to debate on revising the Constitution.

The Diet is expected to be preoccupied with the clash between the ruling and opposition camps over welfare and tax reform legislation, including a bill to double the consumption tax.

The LDP’s draft also proposes a new clause on emergencies that would give the prime minister authority to declare a state of emergency in the event of foreign attack or natural disasters.