National / Politics

Abe to kick off Diet speech with call for talks on amending Constitution

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to call for concrete discussions on revising the Constitution in his policy address before the Diet later this week, according to an outline of his planned speech made available to Kyodo News.

Abe, a longtime advocate of amending the Constitution, is poised to make the pitch as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the supreme law’s enforcement.

Abe, who on Tuesday night returned from a tour of three Southeast Asian nations and Australia, will work out the detailed contents of the speech with the government and the ruling parties beginning Wednesday, it was learned Tuesday.

In his address, to be delivered Friday, the prime minister will also regard the alliance with the United States as the cornerstone of Japan’s foreign and security policy.

He will reveal his plan to travel to the United States at an early date for a meeting with Donald Trump, who will assume the U.S. presidency on Friday, with an eye toward strengthening the alliance with Washington.

Abe will also reiterate his determination to advance the relocation of the operations of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa.

On strained relations with South Korea, he will call the country the most important neighbor with which Japan shares strategic interests and vow efforts to deepen a future-oriented cooperative relationship, according to the outline.

He will additionally touch on the need to improve ties with China, while encouraging North Korea to take concrete action to settle a bilateral row over the reclusive country’s abduction of Japanese nationals decades ago.

As for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which Trump has said he will disavow, Abe will stress the importance of the 12-nation deal as a foundation of future economic partnerships.

He will also say his “Abenomics” economic policy mix has created a virtuous economic cycle across the country, and voice his desire to achieve economic revival, fiscal rehabilitation and social security reform through increased tax revenues and restrained issuance of new government bonds.

Abe will also seek to overhaul working conditions to curb long hours and promote equal treatment of workers regardless of their employment status.

Abe is also expected to call for further efforts to recover from the massive earthquake-tsunami disaster in 2011, to reform agricultural policy and to strengthen anti-terror measures ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, according to the outline.

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