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Abe explicit in call for amendment to Constitution’s Article 9

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday called for changing the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, saying there is a contradiction between the existence of the Self-Defense Forces and a ban on Japan maintaining armed forces.

The Constitution’s second paragraph says: “Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

Abe called for amending this text, citing a draft revised constitution tabled by his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in April 2012.

Abe told the House of Representatives Budget Committee that the Constitution was created during the U.S. Occupation after World War II and that “some parts do not fit into the current period.”

“There is the view that (Japan should) address the situation in which 70 percent of constitutional scholars suspect the SDF is in violation of the Constitution,” he said.

“Given the view that we should change this with our own hands, the LDP has announced a draft revised constitution.”

The U.S.-drafted Constitution has remained unaltered since its promulgation in November 1946.

Abe said public support for the SDF is “unshakable” due to the activities of troops at home and overseas since the forces’ inception more than 60 years ago.

The LDP’s draft “specifies that Japan possesses the right to self-defense and stipulates that an organization will be set up for self-defense,” he said.

The prime minister was responding to a question by Tomomi Inada, chairwoman of the LDP Policy Research Council, who advocates amending the Constitution.

Under Article 96 of the Constitution, revisions to the Constitution can be proposed by two-thirds of the members of each chamber of the Diet and must be approved by a majority of people in a referendum.

At present, the LDP and its coalition partner, the Komeito party, have a two-thirds majority in the Lower House and a majority in the House of Councilors.

In an effort to deepen national debate about a constitutional amendment, Abe has said he will make the subject a campaign issue in the Upper House election this summer.

The opposition Osaka Ishin no Kai (Initiatives from Osaka) has expressed its willingness to help Abe win the more than two-thirds of the seats it needs in the Upper House poll so as to initiate an amendment to the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Abe expressed willingness to visit Iran at a time when countries have begun improving relations with Tehran after it and six major powers struck a landmark nuclear agreement last summer.

Speaking at Wednesday’s session of the Lower House Budget Committee, Abe stressed the significance of strengthening ties with Iran, saying the international community needs Iran’s “constructive engagement” in tackling the civil war in Syria and fighting Islamic State group extremists operating in the Middle East.

Abe also pointed to Tehran’s rich oil and natural gas reserves, as well as its potential as a major export market for Tokyo.

“Japan can by no means lag behind” other countries in developing ties with Iran, he said in response to a question by LDP lawmaker Kentaro Sonoura.

  • Ron Lane

    “There is the view that (Japan should) address the situation in which 70 percent of Constitutional scholars suspect the SDF is in violation of
    the Constitution,” he said.

    I love the logic here: See! Previous governments have succeeded in chipping away at the constitution bit by bit such that we now have SDS forces in clear violation of the Constitution. So because the Constitution is in a state of “unconstitutionality” we have the right to rewrite Article 9 to our liking.

    And lest we forget, well over 90% of Constitutional scholars condemned the recent “reinterpretation” of the Constitution allowing for collective self-defense. Abe didn’t seem too concerned about *that* at the time, did he?

    But credit where credit is due: This has been Abe’s game plan from the very beginning. “Abenomics” was merely thrown together as an afterthought [the heavy lifting in what was supposed to be the “third arrow” never existed beyond a long list to to-do’s]. And all the while the Abe government is feeding the national debt and punishing the poor and middle class. Chickens will come home to roost. It’s a question of when, not if.

    • R0ninX3ph

      Lets be fair here, as much as I don’t personally agree with revision of the constitution, it is within Japans rights to change their constitution.

      If it goes through all the legal hoops, and passes at a referendum, then fine, it was the Japanese peoples choice. I just don’t think Abe would stop if it doesn’t pass the referendum and would just start passing more legislation to bypass the constitution on the whole.

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        I feel exactly the same. If the electorate and it’s elected representatives, decide in a referendum as is required constitutionally and legally, that the majority of them agree with Abe, then all fine and good. However, Abe is well aware that most people don’t agree and is intent on circumventing the democratic process to further his aim. The non-Japanese population’s opinions matter not a jot here, but the majority of Japanese voters do NOT want this change.

  • Ron Lane

    @R0ninX3ph & @Paul,
    Of course Abe is within his right to push for Constitutional revision if he so wishes. My point is that the logic he’s now using is twisted. But the larger point is that we’ve been conned from the outset. Fixing the economy was never a priority for this government. Abenomics, an easy-to-do mix of stimulus and monetary easing has so far done nothing to solve the biggest problems facing this country: a declining population / low birthrate, deflation and a mammoth national debt. Revising the Constitution should rank fairly low on the the must-do list. But revision has, in fact, been the goal all along.

    • R0ninX3ph

      “Fixing the economy was never a priority for this government.”

      Of course it wasn’t, if it was, he wouldn’t have just rebadged Reaganomics (which has largely failed the world over) as his own. Then again, nobody in Japan seems to really notice or care than he hasn’t fulfilled anything he has promised to do….