New opposition party expected to push constitutional change without prioritizing Article 9


A new opposition party to be launched March 27 through a merger between the Democratic Party of Japan and Ishin-no-To (Japan Innovation Party) will uphold constitutionalism and envisage a “future-oriented constitution” that matches with time, lawmakers of the two parties said Tuesday.

Citing a draft platform for the new party, the lawmakers said the party will also advocate fighting vested interests, pushing forward political reform, ensuring sustainable economic growth and contributing to world peace and prosperity.

Reference to the Constitution suggests the new party will be in favor of amending the supreme law.

But the party appears to be pushing decentralization through constitutional revisions, and is not prioritizing a change in the war-renouncing Article 9, which is a goal of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The new party “firmly safeguards constitutionalism based on freedom and democracy,” according to the draft platform.

As for a party name, a group of DPJ and Ishin-no-To lawmakers agreed Tuesday to narrow down a list of candidate names to a few by Thursday.

If the two sides fail to name the party through talks, they will make a final decision by March 18 after studying results of a public survey it will carry out.

On foreign and security affairs, the new party will advocate “realism” and preserve the nation’s commitment to an exclusively defense-oriented security policy, according to the draft.

The party will aim to halt operations of all nuclear power plants in the country in the 2030s, it said.

The DPJ and Ishin-no-To, the largest and third-largest opposition parties, have agreed to join forces through a merger in an attempt to challenge Abe’s governing coalition in a House of Councilors election this summer.

Altogether, about 150 lawmakers from both chambers of the Diet will join the new party, but it will still be far smaller than the ruling coalition of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, which controls a majority of the 242-member Upper House and more than two-thirds of the 475-member House of Representatives.