National / Politics

LDP panel will resume talks on constitutional amendment next week

JIJI

A Liberal Democratic Party task force on amending the Constitution decided Wednesday to resume talks next week after discussions were suspended due to the Oct. 22 House of Representatives election.

The panel of the ruling party aims to draft revisions to the Constitution by the end of this year in order to submit the draft during an ordinary Diet session starting in January.

But the work encounter delays, as some party members remain opposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to add a provision to war-renouncing Article 9 to recognize the Self-Defense Forces.

Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, is also cautious about the proposal. “We’re watching the talks in the LDP,” Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said Tuesday.

The LDP is poised to step up internal talks after the ruling coalition maintained its two-thirds majority in the Lower House in last month’s poll. Support from such a majority in both Diet chambers is needed to put any proposals to revise the Constitution to a national referendum.

Hiroyuki Hosoda, who is close to Abe, was appointed chair of the LDP panel after the general election, apparently reflecting the prime minister’s eagerness to take the initiative in the party talks.

At next week’s meeting, the panel will cover the issue of revoking recent mergers of sparsely populated electoral districts for the House of Councilors, the upper chamber of the Diet, through a constitutional revision.

Some in the LDP are eyeing a national referendum on constitutional amendment on the same day as the next Upper House election, scheduled for the summer of 2019.

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