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LDP to draw up new draft constitution by year's end

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on May 18 decided on a plan to accelerate drawing up the party's draft constitution in time for 2020, Prime Minister and LDP President Shinzo Abe's target for implementing a revised supreme law.

The decision came after a meeting among Toshihiro Nikai, the LDP secretary-general; Okiharu Yasuoka, chairman of the party's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution; and Yoko Kamikawa, the LDP chief secretary.

Senior LDP officials said the party planned to compile a draft constitution before the end of this year.

"We will put our utmost effort into drawing up a specific draft as soon as possible," Yasuoka told reporters following the meeting with Nikai. According to LDP sources, four top party executives, including Nikai and LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Toshimitsu Motegi, will sit on the headquarters. After expanding the headquarters' members, it is set to deliberate topics such as the addition of a third paragraph to the Constitution's war-renouncing Article 9 that would explicitly stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), the addition of a provision that would make higher education free, and the addition of an emergency powers provision that would allow legislators' terms to be extended in the case of a major disaster.

In the Diet on May 18, the prime minister instructed LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura, who serves as adviser to the party's constitution revision headquarters, to "offer advice and support to Yasuoka." Within the LDP leadership, some are unhappy with a cohort of party members who place a priority on cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties for taking too long debating draft revisions.

The party leadership's aim is to dispatch Abe lieutenant Komura and other party leaders who are not so committed to cooperating with the opposition to the headquarters to take charge and speed up the deliberation process. Komura has a strong relationship with Kazuo Kitagawa, the Constitution research council chairman of LDP junior coalition party Komeito.

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