• Kyodo News


The ruling Liberal Democratic Party vowed to get to the bottom of and remedy the pension system fiasco and start efforts in 2010 to amend the war-renouncing Constitution as part of its campaign pledges unveiled Tuesday in the runup to the July House of Councilors election.

The LDP will focus on the pension mess because of plunging voter approval ratings for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the government’s pension management and other scandals involving his administration, political sources said.

The party is pledging a quick response to the Social Insurance Agency’s pension record-keeping snafu. Among the 155 items on the campaign pledge list, the LDP is vowing to complete within a year the cross-checking of about 50 million unidentified pension premium payment records with information on some 30 million current pensioners to see if any match.

The LDP said the SIA bears a heavy responsibility for the snafu and it pledged concerted action by the ruling coalition and government to swiftly investigate the debacle to prevent a recurrence.

The LDP said it “will promote a national campaign to launch Diet deliberations on constitutional reform in 2010 and win voter approval for a constitutional revision in a referendum.”

Long a key target for amendment, the party wants to change Article 9, which now states: “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, 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.”

On foreign policy and national security, the LDP is pledging to “re-establish the country’s legal framework for its national security,” a vague reference to the government’s goal of reinterpreting the Constitution to end the self-imposed ban on the right to collective defense, or the use of force to counter an attack on an ally.

The LDP will also seek enactment of a new law that would allow the Self-Defense Forces to be sent overseas at any time as part of efforts to expand the nation’s international cooperation activities.

The LDP will seek a revision of the 2006 law on North Korea’s human rights situation to ban Japanese economic aid to the hermit state unless there is progress in Tokyo’s demand for a resolution of the long-standing abduction issue.

In a 2002 summit in Pyongyang involving Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the North admitted its agents abducted 13 Japanese in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

North Korea allowed five to return to Japan but maintains that the other eight are dead, a claim rejected by their families and by Tokyo.

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