The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is set to forgo the compilation of its own constitutional amendment proposals, according to sources.
Seishiro Eto, who heads the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision of the Constitution, is eager to quickly put together the party’s reform draft for the top law.
But many LDP members are now concerned that opposition parties would react harshly, and constitutional reform debates in the Diet could stall if the LDP pushes ahead with the issue without seeking cooperation from the opposition side, sources familiar with the matter said.
In October, soon after he became chair of the LDP panel, Eto told reporters, “I would like to come up with the party’s constitutional amendment proposals by year-end and deliver it to the parliamentary committees on the Constitution.”
He has set up a task force in the party for drafting constitutional amendment proposals and showed his intention to draw up provisions on four reform items, including clarifying the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.
Eto’s move upset many lawmakers of the LDP, which has been considering plans for the ruling and opposition camps to work together on narrowing down issues for revision based on the four items and drawing up constitutional reform proposals after reaching an agreement.
With Eto’s policy deviating from that of the ruling party, many LDP members have voiced concerns. “Work to create constitutional reform provisions is something that should be carried out through discussions with the opposition side,” a senior LDP lawmaker said.
In addition, there have been signs of progress in discussions between the ruling and opposition blocs over a proposed national referendum law amendment to make it easier for voters to cast their ballots in referendums on constitutional revisions.
After the LDP and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, recently agreed to reach some conclusions on the matter during next year’s regular Diet session, to be convened in January, the ruling party decided not to draft proposals for constitutional revision while prioritizing work to enact the referendum law amendment, sources said.
Regarding these developments, Eto told people close to him, “I should refrain from complaining about the party’s policy” of putting priority on the referendum law revision, indicating his plan to forgo compiling the party’s proposals on constitutional amendment.
But Eto also said that he is ready to prepare his “personal idea” about constitutional reform by the end of this year.
Eto also stressed his stance at a pro-constitutional revision meeting held by a private sector group Wednesday, saying, “We should propose constitutional revision to the public and confirm their views even if some parties hesitate to do so.”
The LDP’s constitutional reform strategy could hit a snag if its careful approach clashes with Eto’s aggressive stance, political watchers said.
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