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Collective defense talks next week

Abe awaits proposal on Article 9 as collective defense talks loom

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that he expects to receive a report from a panel examining the issue of collective self-defense some time next week.

Abe, now on a tour of six European nations, made the remarks to reporters at a hotel in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Based on the report from the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security, Abe’s team will present the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition its plan for changing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution to lift the self-imposed ban on exercising the U.N. right to collective self-defense.

The government plans to adopt a new interpretation of the Constitution at a Cabinet meeting after consultations with the ruling bloc.

On the timing of the Cabinet decision, Abe said: “It is extremely important that the ruling parties will reach a consensus. The process may take time, according to circumstances.”

Abe, who is also president of the conservative LDP, thus signaled his readiness to hold thorough discussions with New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the LDP, without necessarily sticking to the idea of reaching a Cabinet decision by the time the Diet closes on June 22.

New Komeito remains cautious about enabling Japan to exercise the collective self-defense right.

Abe said that the government’s proposal on changing the way the Constitution is interpreted will show “the direction of discussions,” not “a policy direction,” hinting that talks within the ruling camp will not be bound by the upcoming policy.

Abe also said that Japan and the United States have achieved major progress in their recent talks on trade liberalization measures for the envisaged Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.

Still, he said: “We have yet to reach a broad agreement. There are issues that need to be resolved.”

The prime minister also repeated his eagerness to lower the effective corporate tax rate in Japan.

“I want the LDP’s tax panel to hold discussions on the effective tax rate and tax bases from a standpoint of helping Japanese companies win international competition and promoting fiscal reconstruction.”

“We plan to implement tax reform measures to promote growth,” Abe added.

As for the reshuffling the Cabinet and LDP executives expected after the end of the regular Diet session, Abe said, “Nothing has been decided at the moment, including on the timing.”

Abe said that it is necessary to continue applying pressure on North Korea to prompt the reclusive state to shift its policies into the direction sought by the international community.

Japan hopes to hold dialogue with North Korea to seek an opportunity for resolving the issue of its abductions of Japanese nationals, he added.