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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated Monday that his Liberal Democratic Party will make constitutional amendments a key campaign issue in the House of Councilors election in July.

“The Upper House election will be a good opportunity to deepen discussions” on the Constitution, Abe told reporters at his official residence following the enactment earlier in the day of a law establishing procedures for a national referendum to change the charter.

Abe is expected to tout the LDP’s 2005 draft proposal for a new Constitution, which features removing the second clause of Article 9 to allow Japan to officially possess a military for self-defense.

At the same time, he said it is important for the issue to be “discussed broadly and deeply in a quiet environment” during the period until the referendum law takes effect in three years.

“We would like to discuss with the public the draft put together by the LDP,” Abe said, expressing hope for increased public support for the LDP proposal.

Following the enactment of the referendum law, constitutional screening committees will be set up in both the chambers of the Diet when the next legislative session convenes after the Upper House election in July, and the LDP hopes to effectively start the debate at these panels as early as this fall.

The screening committees will not start officially debating proposals for constitutional amendments until the referendum law officially takes effect three years after it is promulgated later this week. But the LDP says it will be possible for the panels to start discussions, for example, on problems under the current Constitution.

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