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LDP resolves to hasten Constitution revamp, send Abe to Yasukuni

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party adopted a policy Sunday to accelerate the revision of the pacifist Constitution and pursue other pieces of its nationalist agenda.

At its first party convention since regaining power last December, the LDP also urged Abe to visit war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead, including Class-A war criminals.

China and other countries invaded by Japan view the Shinto facility as one of the main symbols of Japan’s war of aggression, which ended with its surrender in 1945.

Among its many constitutional amendment plans, the LDP primarily wants to revise war-renouncing Article 9 so the government can turn the Self-Defense Forces into a full military unit called the “kokubo gun,” or Defense Forces, to broaden its combat capabilities.

The LDP returned to power with a landslide victory in the House of Representatives election on Dec. 16, ending the three-year run of the fledgling Democratic Party of Japan. Before that, it had been in power nearly continuously for more than five decades.

The LDP has admitted that the victory reflected the public’s disapproval of the DPJ rather than actual support for the LDP, and that the outcome doesn’t necessarily mean it regained voters’ trust.

Now its sights are set on winning a majority with Buddhist-backed coalition partner New Komeito in this summer’s House of Councilors election so it can capture both chambers of the Diet and push through its nationalist agenda.

The DPJ-led opposition remains the largest political force in the Upper House, followed by the ruling coalition.

In its policy plan, the LDP is expected to say it will work hand in hand with the government to approach the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations with a strong posture to boost Japan’s prosperity.

Abe’s Cabinet has enjoyed relatively high support ratings since it was launched in late December, partly due to Abe’s economic rhetoric, dubbed “Abenomics,” which has taken the wind out of the yen and goosed the stock market with temporary pump-priming expectations.

A Kyodo News poll in late February said the Cabinet had an approval rate of 72.8 percent — the first reading above 70 percent since September 2009, when the government of then-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was launched.