The Liberal Democratic Party on Monday unveiled a rough outline of its planned constitutional amendment, which says the Self-Defense Forces should be defined as a military tasked with defending Japan and joining international peacekeeping efforts.
The outline was mapped out by 10 subcommittees of an LDP panel for drafting a new Constitution.
The panel, headed by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, will further try to iron out remaining differences within the party and put the finishing touches to the outline by month’s end.
The LDP hopes to come up with a text draft of a new Constitution by the time the party celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding in November.
But the LDP’s proposal for partially rewriting the war-renouncing Article 9 is expected to fuel concern that it would end the Constitution’s curbs on overseas force deployments.
The LDP will also have to rein in some of its right-leaning members because the party must work with its pacifist junior coalition partner, New Komeito, and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan to achieve a constitutional amendment.
Article 96 stipulates that amendments be initiated by the Diet through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all members in both chambers.
While retaining the principle of pacifism as stipulated by Clause 1 of Article 9, the outline says the Constitution should make it clear that Japan maintains a military for “self-defense” and should “make active efforts” to help keep the peace in international society.
This means Clause 2 of Article 9 might be revised from its current stipulation that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”
The outline released Monday does not call for rewriting Clause 2.
The new Constitution must also stipulate civilian control of the SDF and the prime minister as supreme commander, according to the outline.
Issues to be further discussed include the possible establishment of a military tribunal to maintain discipline within the SDF and specific procedures for the government to declare a state of emergency.
The outline does not clearly say whether Japan should engage in collective defense with its allies. Currently, the government interprets the Constitution as banning this right.
Some members of the subcommittees proposed that the scope of SDF activities, including collective defense, be stipulated in fundamental laws on security and international cooperation that need to be enacted separately.
The outline also calls for a sweeping revision to the Constitution’s preamble.
The new Constitution should declare that it was created “autonomously,” whereas the current Constitution was drawn up when Japan was under U.S. Occupation following its defeat in World War II, the LDP said.
Under the outlines, the preamble would say the Japanese people should “love their country, which regards freedom, democracy, human rights and peace” as its fundamental principles, and should “steadfastly maintain its independence.”
Chapter 1 of the new Constitution would define the Emperor as the symbol of the unity of Japan, although some LDP lawmakers advocated defining the Emperor as head of state, according to the outline.
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