Hashimoto would take in Tokyo constitutional malcontents

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who heads Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), said Tuesday he would not refuse tying up with three members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly even though they supported a petition declaring the Constitution invalid.

Kazusa Noda, a former Liberal Democratic Party member, along with Hirofumi Yanagase and Zenko Kurishita, formerly of the Democratic Party of Japan, formed the group Tokyo Ishin no Kai last month and announced they were tying up with Osaka Ishin no Kai, Hashimoto’s group for local politicians. They were also expected to join Nippon Ishin no Kai, an official national political party that currently has nine members in the Lower House.

The move came three months after they submitted a petition calling for the Tokyo assembly to recognize that the Constitution, officially adopted by the Diet in 1947, is not valid because it was promulgated when Japan was under the Allied Occupation.

“We affirm the ‘Occupation Constitution’ is invalid and the Meiji Constitution is still in existence,” the petition stated.

The petition was voted down by the assembly. But on Tuesday, Hashimoto told reporters that while such efforts were not in line with his party’s official policy, politicians who want to join Nippon Ishin no Kai are free to do as they please as long as they agree with the party’s platform regarding local political roles.

“It’s not the policy of Nippon Ishin no Kai to tell other groups around Japan what they should be doing. Nor are we seeking abolition of the Constitution. Our platform calls for revising Article 96 to reduce the number of Diet members needed to amend the Constitution from two-thirds to one-half,” Hashimoto said, adding that given the precedents that have been set by the current Constitution, abolishing it is impossible.

The Meiji Constitution dates to 1890 and gave the emperor active political power, especially over foreign policy and diplomacy.