Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for an amendment to the national referendum law during the current Diet session in a bid to realize his long-time goal of revising the Constitution.
“It should be done seriously,” Abe, who resigned as prime minister in September due to a chronic illness, said in an interview on Friday. Abe remains a lawmaker of the House of Representatives.
The referendum law revision bill, first submitted under the Abe administration, has been repeatedly carried over since being introduced and is now in its eighth Diet session.
“It is a value-neutral bill with a certain level of agreement, so it should be enacted straightforwardly,” the former prime minister said.
He also said that the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) should be detached from the government and turned into a private organization. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been under fire for refusing to appoint some of the nominees recommended by the council.
Abe said that he had no strong interest in member appointments during his time in power.
“I understood issues related to the council but left them to the back-office staff,” he said, adding that he had never seen the list of nominees recommended by the government-affiliated body that represents the nation’s academic community.
Abe showed an understanding of Suga’s decision, saying that appointments “should not necessarily be made according to the nominations.”
“It is better that the SCJ engages in activities as a completely private entity,” he said. Abe also questioned whether tax money should be provided to the council, which is not enthusiastic about conducting research in the field of national security.
As a lawmaker, Abe said that he wants to tackle issues such as constitutional revision, peace treaty talks with Russia and North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago.
Japan and Russia have yet to conclude a peace treaty to formally end their World War II hostilities due to their long-standing territorial dispute over four islands off Hokkaido that were seized by the Soviet Union from Japan at the end of the war.
On the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election, expected to take place in autumn 2021, Abe said that Suga should continue to be the party chief if he leads the LDP to victory in the next general election for the all-important Lower House.
Abe said that an LDP leadership election does not need to take place if the ruling bloc, also including Komeito, keeps its majority in the Lower House in the next election. The terms of office for the current Lower House members are set to end on Oct. 21, 2021.
He said he will not seek to become prime minister a third time, after serving in the post for a year until September 2007 and for about seven years and eight months until mid-Sepetember this year.
The former prime minister said that Suga “should seek to engage in his own style of diplomacy,” but added that he wants to cooperate if he can.
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