• Jiji

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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has approved a plan to appoint Hiroyuki Hosoda, former secretary-general of the party, as chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commission on the Constitution.

The LDP also decided Tuesday to appoint former Lower House Vice Speaker Seishiro Eto as chairman of its Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision of the Constitution.

The appointments “represent the intention (of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, also president of the LDP) to press ahead” with constitutional reform, LDP General Council Chairman Tsutomu Sato stated at a news conference on the day.

“The prime minister basically plans to follow the policies” of his immediate predecessor, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said Sato. “And we can say that he will take this stance on constitutional reform, as well.”

While Abe took some initiative on constitutional reform, it seems uncertain whether talks on the issue between the ruling and opposition parties will move forward during the tenure of Suga, who has not put forward constitutional reform as a priority of his administration.

Hosoda is currently head of the largest LDP faction, to which Abe had belonged before becoming prime minister.

When Hosoda was serving as chairman of the LDP constitutional revision headquarters in 2018, he led the party to draw up a constitutional amendment draft including four related proposals specified by Abe.

Eto, also a member of the LDP faction, has previously served as adviser of the LDP headquarters. He is keen to negotiate with the opposition camp on the four-point amendment draft. “I hope that the amendment draft will be submitted during next year’s ordinary session (of the Diet),” he said.

Meanwhile, Suga is viewed by many as less enthusiastic about constitutional reform.

“He is a realist, so he knows that it’s hard to revise the Constitution,” said a former Cabinet minister who belonged to the LDP faction led by Shigeru Ishiba, who lost to Suga in the most recent LDP leadership election.

“He appears to be pretending to make efforts (toward constitutional reform), as it is difficult to tone down the party’s initiative on the issue immediately” after Abe stepped down, a senior party member said.

On Tuesday, Suga attended a meeting of LDP executives for the first time since he took office earlier in September. During the meeting, he indicated his eagerness to promote administrative reform and tackle the novel coronavirus epidemic, but did not mention constitutional reform.

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