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Abe calls on opposition to discuss constitutional revision, refuses to dump LDP draft

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged opposition parties in a Diet session to participate in discussions on constitutional revisions but refused to retract a draft Constitution that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has worked out.

Regarding the LDP's draft of a new Constitution, Abe told a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Sept. 30, "I don't think the draft will be passed as it is," suggesting that the governing party will flexibly discuss the matter at both chambers' commissions on the Constitution.

Bearing in mind that many political parties have failed to work out their own drafts for a new Constitution, the prime minister said he does not understand why opposition parties demand that the LDP retract its draft and asked the legislature to "first hold discussions based on the LDP draft."

Goshi Hosono of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP) demanded that the draft be retracted on the grounds that Article 97 of the current Constitution that mentions the value of fundamental human rights has been deleted from the LDP's draft. However, the prime minister rejected the demand.

Separately, Prime Minister Abe said the situation in South Sudan meets the conditions for the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) to participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations -- on the grounds that the conflicting parties in the country have announced that they would end hostility after they clashed in July.

With regard to so-called "rush-to-rescue" missions that the GSDF will perform under the security legislation, Abe said, "We'll make judgments while cautiously studying various circumstances." In such missions, GSDF personnel would rush to rescue U.N. or NGO members, or foreign military personnel, if they were attacked by militant forces or other warring groups.

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