discussions (among the three parties). I hope the parties will continue discussions, based on this process,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told a regular news conference Wednesday, responding to Ozawa’s comments.

The Constitution states that amendments must be approved by referendum. However, the legal framework for such a vote has never been established in the more than half century since the charter took effect.

Politicians from all parties have been calling for amendments — most contentious of these being a revision to Article 9 to make official Japan’s use of a military for self-defense and to allow its active participation in international disputes. Enacting legislation on how to hold a referendum is the first step toward that goal.

Because of the connection, huge public debate is expected when the bill is finally submitted. The ruling bloc and DPJ had thus been working to submit a bill acceptable to most so it can move quickly through the Diet when debate begins.

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