OSAKA – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Tuesday evening in Tokyo with top Osaka-based Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) officials Toru Hashimoto and Ichiro Matsui to discuss cooperation on amending the Constitution.
Hashimoto, who, along with Lower House member Shintaro Ishihara, serves as coleader of Nippon Ishin and as mayor of Osaka, and Matsui, the party’s secretary general and Osaka governor, had originally said they were only meeting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to discuss Osaka-related issues.
Hashimoto did not provide details of the meeting, saying only that the two sides had discussed various issues. But Abe told a Lower House committee Tuesday he wanted to revise Article 96, which requires constitutional revisions be approved by a two-thirds majority in both Diet houses. Both Abe and Nippon Ishin favor changing that to a simple majority in both chambers.
Both parties see the revision of Article 96 as the first step toward making it easier to amend Article 9, the no-war clause.
At a meeting of Diet members from Nippon Ishin earlier Tuesday, Hashimoto stressed the importance of revision to this summer’s Upper House election.
“Constitutional revision will be a major election theme, and I want to make it a major campaign issue,” he said.
But New Komeito, the LDP’s pacifist coalition partner, which works with Hashimoto’s party in the Osaka Municipal Assembly to pass legislation, indicated once again Tuesday that it opposes such constitutional revisions.
“The debate has been insufficient,” New Komeito head Natsuo Yamaguchi told reporters Tuesday.