A Lower House panel submitted a final report Friday to Speaker Yohei Kono, stressing the need to amend the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9 and to allow a female to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The 710-page report on revising the supreme code was endorsed by the Lower House’s 50-member Research Commission on the Constitution, with a majority backed by members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, and the Democratic Party of Japan.

Members from the Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party opposed the report.

The report, summing up five years of discussion by the panel, is the first time the Diet has set a course to revise the Constitution.

The ruling bloc and DPJ now plan to have the Lower House retain the commission and empower it to draft and deliberate on a bill to set in motion a public referendum to change the Constitution.

The panel was inaugurated in January 2000, based on the Diet Law, for the purpose of conducting broad and comprehensive research.

The commission “didn’t aim at setting a certain course from the beginning. But as a result of five years of discussions, there were some points where directions have become clear,” deputy commission chief and DPJ lawmaker Yukio Edano said.

“It will be appropriate for the commission to be authorized to deliberate on the referendum bill as well as the Constitution itself further,” he said.

SDP member Takako Doi told Friday’s commission session that her party adamantly opposed how the panel was run and how it came up with the report, with its arbitrary “abstracting of diversity” and “categorizing of panel members’ opinions” in order to form a consensus for revision.

Panel members’ opinions over the past five years were categorized under topics along the lines of the Constitution’s articles. Those opinions approved by two-thirds or more of the panel in each topic were considered a majority view in the report.

The report says a majority opinion had it that the nation should hold fast to the pacifism policy and maintain the war-renouncing Clause 1 of Article 9.

On Clause 2 of Article 9, however, the panel said a majority did “not deny taking some sort of constitutional means regarding the right to self-defense and the Self-Defense Forces.”

The current clause stipulates “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

A majority opinion also stated that the nation should be allowed to use force to a minimum extent for its defense, the report says.

On the right to collective defense, the report says panel members were split three ways over whether to allow it to be exercised.

Gist of final report on constitutional revision

The following is the gist of a final report on the revision of the Constitution adopted Friday by the House of Representatives Research Commission on the Constitution.

* Majority agreed Japan should maintain fundamental principles to respect popular sovereignty, peace and basic human rights.

* Majority agreed to rewrite preamble to reflect Japanese history, traditions and culture.

* Majority approved continued existence of current system that recognizes the emperor as the state symbol, while agreeing to allow for a female to assume the throne.

* Majority agreed to allow constitutional changes to ensure the right to self-defense and maintaining Self-Defense Forces.

* Panel members were split three ways over whether to allow Japan the right to engage in collective defense. The opinions were to allow, not to allow and to allow with restrictions.

* Majority supported stipulating in the Constitution Japan’s participation in U.N. collective security activities and the creation of framework for regional security in Asia.

* Majority agreed to define defense emergencies in the Constitution.

* Majority agreed to state environmental right and right to know.

* Majority supported maintaining the bicameral system in the Diet, reinforcing the Diet’s monitoring function over the central government and strengthening the power of the prime minister.

* Majority agreed to include establishment of a court specifically dealing with constitutional matters and introduction of large local governments integrating prefectures.

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