• Kyodo

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Constitutional scholar Setsu Kobayashi has failed in his attempt to gain a seat for his political group in the House of Councilors as part of efforts to block amendments to the Constitution, early returns showed.

The Kokumin Ikari no Koe (Angry Voice of the People), a group set up by 67-year-old Kobayashi, a professor emeritus at Keio University, was unable to win a seat under the proportional representation segment of the poll.

Appearing on a TV program late Sunday, Kobayashi said he ran in the election “to provide a way for debate on the Constitution” but acknowledged his message had apparently failed to get through to the voting public.

He raised his profile as one of the three law experts who told a Diet panel last year that government-submitted security bills, deliberated at the time, ran counter to the war-renouncing Constitution.

From his political group, 10 candidates, including Kobayashi, ran under proportional representation and another ran in the Tokyo constituency.

Kobayashi said he had hoped his party could provide an alternative for voters dissatisfied with the policies of the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling bloc, and the main opposition Democratic Party.

Still, he said he and other candidates failed to make the party better known to the public, saying, “There were people who did not even know I was running.”

The contentious security legislation, which took effect in March, enables Japan to come to the aid of allies under armed attack such as the United States, even if Japan itself is not attacked.

Previous governments had maintained that the country has that right under international law but cannot exercise it due to the Constitution’s Article 9, which bans the use of force to settle international disputes.

In response to a changing security environment, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet decided in July 2014 to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense under certain conditions.

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