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Abe keen for constitutional revisions, cites problems with post-war process

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed enthusiasm about constitutional revisions during a Diet session on Oct. 5, pointing out problems involving the process leading up to the enactment of the current Constitution after World War II.

"There are problems with the process of enacting the Constitution and challenges after a considerable amount of time has passed (since it came into force)," the prime minister told a House of Councillors Budget Committee session on the morning of Oct. 5, which deliberated on the second supplementary budget draft for fiscal 2016. He has thus far hinted at his recognition that the Constitution today was forced upon Japan by the United States.

"The Constitution needs to be amended from the viewpoint of modern-day issues," he added.

Prime Minister Abe was responding to Renho, leader of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP), who raised questions about the need to reform the supreme law.

Renho expressed concerns about a clause in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) draft of a new Constitution, which states, "Family members must help each other." Renho said, "Wouldn't this make Japan return to the age when husbands and wives were not equal?"

The prime minister did not clearly answer Renho's question.

"Debate should be held on how the Constitution should define families," he said. "Such debate should take place at the commissions on the Constitution (of both chambers of the Diet)."

Prime Minister Abe denied that he intends to dissolve the House of Representatives in early January -- following a Japan-Russia summit meeting in December -- to call a snap general election, as rumored in the Diet.

"At the present stage, I'm not thinking of dissolving the chamber at all. I'd like to make the right judgment at the right time," he said.

Abe made the remarks in response to comments by Renho, who said, "It's a bit strange that foreign policy is made a point of contention in an election."

In the same session, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the Cabinet will approve the draft of a ratification instrument for the Paris Agreement on a new international framework for countermeasures against global warming as early as Oct. 11.

Prime Minister Abe expressed enthusiasm about having the pact ratified during the ongoing extraordinary Diet session.

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