The campaign to revise the Constitution took another step forward Friday when a key Upper House panel passed a bill to establish procedures for a national referendum on the war-renouncing national charter.
The Constitution stipulates that any changes to the charter must be approved by a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet and then by a simple majority in a national referendum. But no legal framework has so far been established to hold the referendum.
“I believe that it was negligence on the part of the lawmakers that a law to set procedures to revise the Constitution — which is stipulated in Article 96 (of the charter) — had not been established for 60 years,” LDP Upper House lawmaker Yoichi Masuzoe told the panel.
The bill stipulates that Japanese nationals aged 18 and over will be able to vote. The original bill, submitted by the LDP and New Komeito to the regular Diet session last year, had stipulated age 20 and over.
But the ruling bloc lowered the age requirement in March in a compromise with the Democratic Party of Japan, which had submitted its own version of the bill that set the minimum voting age at 18.
Currently, the legal voting age and the definition of adulthood in Japan is 20 and over. The referendum bill includes a provision that says that until legal steps are taken to lower the standard to 18 on other matters, the voting age for a national referendum will be 20 and older.
Critics say that lowering the age will take a long time because such changes will not only affect the Public Offices Election Law and the Civil Law, but also many other laws and regulations on issues such as marriage, smoking and drinking.
The referendum bill also states that the proposals for a revision to the Constitution must be submitted item-by-item, rather than as a package of amendments.
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