National / Politics

Abe will request opposition support to amend Constitution after election


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday he will try to persuade lawmakers from the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition force, to support his bid to amend the Constitution after the Upper House election.

Abe told reporters in Warsaw that he will try to secure the two-thirds majorities of both Diet members required to amend it.

“There must be lawmakers supporting revisions of some articles of the Constitution not only in Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party, but also in the DPJ,” the prime minister said, conceding that it will be impossible to secure enough seats only through the election to push through amendments solely via his ruling Liberal Democratic Party and partner New Komeito.

Abe’s LDP-New Komeito bloc already controls more than two-thirds of the Lower House. However, Buddhist-backed New Komeito does not support amending the Constitution, particularly war-renouncing Article 9.

Revising the supreme code is one of Abe’s major policy goals, and he has suggested he will start by trying to amend Article 96 to ease the rules for initiating constitutional change.

Abe said: “Some argue that even under the constitutional amendment initiatives over pacifism, basic human rights and popular sovereignty, the two-thirds rule should be left unchanged. I will discuss this with such arguments in mind.”

Abe was in Poland on the first leg of his trip to Europe, during which he will also attend the two-day summit of the Group of Eight major nations from Monday in Northern Ireland.

He suggested he will decide whether to reshuffle his Cabinet after the House of Councilors election in July.

“We must deal with the Tokyo assembly election and the Upper House election first. For now I’m not thinking about a reshuffle,” he said.

Abe also said he will give priority to cutting the investment tax over reducing the corporate tax in drawing up a new growth strategy to be released this fall.

“The important thing is to stimulate corporate investment,” he said. “I believe it will lead the economy into a positive growth cycle.”

Abe said the ruling bloc should be able to secure a majority in the 242-seat upper chamber on July 21. Half of the seats will be up for grabs.

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