• Kyodo

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Democratic Party leader Katsuya Okada on Thursday reiterated that the main opposition party is against revising the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, but indicated there may be room to discuss amendments in other areas.

While urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to rethink his view that the Constitution was “imposed” during the postwar Occupation by the Allied Forces, Okada said, “I have clearly said that we don’t need to revise Article 9, but I haven’t mentioned issues other than that.

“If an issue emerges that strikes me (as substantive), I will not say that I will not discuss it,” Okada said at a news conference days after an Upper House election gave Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and other pro-amendment elements the wherewithal to push to revise the postwar Constitution for the first time ever.

Okada previously had been against allowing any revisions while Abe leads the government, but now appears to have altered his stance. He may be thinking that it would be difficult for the party to reject talks on the issue after Diet panels on the matter restart possibly as soon as this fall.

As a “basic premise” for discussion, Okada urged Abe to stop seeing the supreme law as an “imposed Constitution” and to accept the principle for the need of constitutional limits to government power.

Okada also said, “I want the prime minister to first explain his idea of Japan’s Constitution. I’m not saying that we will not allow constitutional revisions or discussions at all. The ball is in the prime minister’s court.”

After Sunday’s House of Councilors election, the ruling parties and other pro-revision forces now control more than two-thirds of the seats in both Diet chambers, a requirement for proposing constitutional amendments.

The proposal would then need to be approved by a simple majority of voters in a national referendum.

Abe’s ultimate goal is believed to be a revision of Article 9, which critics fear would gut the country’s postwar pacifist Constitution. But because that issue is so controversial among the public, the LDP is likely to seek to put forth less sensitive changes for the first amendment.

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