Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday demanded that the Diet discuss his Liberal Democratic Party’s proposals for constitutional amendments.

The LDP’s proposals include defining the roles of the Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9.

Political parties should put forward their own proposals for constitutional amendments and discuss them, said Abe, who is also LDP president, during a televised debate among party leaders. “A final decision (on whether to amend the Constitution) will be made by the people,” he said.

The TV debate came ahead of the July 21 election for the House of Councilors. Abe said the election will test each party’s ability to fulfill its duties in discussing constitutional amendments.

Leaders from opposition parties the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People sought to first discuss tighter regulations on television commercials for national referendums on possible constitutional amendments.

TV commercial regulations under the current national referendum law have major flaws but the ruling coalition has refused to discuss them, CDP leader Yukio Edano said. DPP leader Yuichiro Tamaki said his party’s proposals for referendum law revisions should be discussed at an early opportunity.

Ichiro Matsui, leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai, which is supportive of constitutional amendments, said it is irresponsible for opposition parties to refuse to discuss the matter.

Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii said every opinion poll shows that only a minority of people see the need to amend the Constitution.

Shii said he is concerned that the second paragraph of Article 9, which bans Japan from possessing any war potential, will become virtually ineffective if a new paragraph is added to authorize the SDF.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, reiterated his party’s cautious stance toward constitutional amendments. “People’s interest is not high,” he said, stressing the need to deepen public understanding of the matter.

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