National / Politics

LDP vice president says 'zero possibility' Abe will revise Article 9 after Upper House poll win

by Reiji Yoshida

STAFF WRITER

A senior Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker has said there is no possibility that the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9 will be changed, even if pro-revision forces win a two-thirds majority in Sunday’s Upper House election — a claim that was immediately blasted by the main opposition Democratic Party.

During a TV program Tuesday, LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura said “there is zero possibility” that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would try to revise Article 9 even if the pro-revision lawmakers secure more than two-thirds of the 242-seat chamber. Such a majority is a prerequisite for initiating a national referendum on amending the Constitution.

Komura said Abe has repeatedly said that the “understanding of the nation” has yet to be acquired for any such revision. Talks about revising the pacifist charter amid the Upper House campaign are “a kind of demagoguery,” Komura said.

On Wednesday, the DP sent a written letter of protest containing questions to Komura, pointing out that the LDP has publicized its goal of revising the postwar Constitution, including Article 9.

The DP noted that during a TV program aired Jan. 10 on public broadcaster NHK, Abe pledged to win a two-thirds majority in the chamber together with other pro-revision forces.

“Under this situation, it is only natural to interpret that Abe would promote revising Article 9,” the DP said, demanding that Komura withdraw his remarks and apologize to DP President Katsuya Okada, who had argued that Article 9 would be changed if pro-revision forces prevail in the election.

The DP also asked if Komura’s statement is the LDP’s official view. The LDP has advocated for constitutional revision as part of its platform since the party’s inception in 1955, and in 2012 the party released its proposed draft constitution, including a revised Article 9.

“Prime Minister Abe has never said he would give up on revising Article 9,” the DP said in the statement. “If (Komura’s remark) means Abe would not aim to revise Article 9, we demand (Abe) withdraw his past remarks and make this clear during the election campaign.”

For years Abe has been known as an ardent supporter of constitutional revision, presumably including Article 9.

But as the Upper House campaign got underway, Abe and LDP candidates have touted economic and welfare issues as their top priorities, rarely even mentioning constitutional issues.

Critics have maintained that Abe is concealing his true goal of revising Article 9 to avoid stirring controversy during the election, instead publicly focusing on economic issues in am effort to garner more support for his party.

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