• Kyodo

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The ruling coalition may conditionally ease a law that prevents public officials from engaging in political activities so they can take part in debates on constitutional revision, sources said Saturday.

Police officers and judges would continue to be subject to existing regulations because they are required to maintain strict political neutrality at all times, the sources said.

A law enacted in 2007 requires that the Constitution be amended via a national referendum but also compels the state to take necessary legislative measures to allow public officials to express their views.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition ally, New Komeito, have decided in principle to jointly submit a bill to revise this law to the extraordinary Diet session to be convened Oct. 15. The two parties will soon begin discussions to hash out the details, according to the sources.

However, the two parties, which have already agreed to propose lowering the voting age to 18 for national referendums, remain at odds over the participation of public officials in debates about changing the Constitution.

New Komeito is seeking to relax the restrictions on public officials to promote more open-minded debate on the issue. But the LDP remains cautious due to concerns that government workers’ and public school teachers’ labor unions, which back opposition parties and oppose constitutional amendment, would have greater influence.

The latest development appears to be a concession by the LDP so that both ruling parties can submit the bill at an early date.

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