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LDP temporarily shelves 2012 constitutional draft to realize revision

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has decided to narrow down a list of clauses in its 2005 and 2012 constitutional drafts to facilitate parliamentary debate on revising Japan's postwar Constitution, LDP lawmakers say.

In doing so, the LDP hopes to promote debate with the opposition camp in the Commissions on the Constitution in both houses of the Diet by temporarily shelving particularly controversial conservative clauses of the 2012 draft. The Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, chaired by former Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka, will hold a plenary session to accelerate intraparty discussions.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) under new leader Renho has signaled readiness to actively participate in debates at the parliamentary commissions on the Constitution while asking the LDP to drop its 2012 draft altogether.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also president of the LDP, made clear before the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Sept. 30 that his party will not withdraw the 2012 draft. He is not entirely sticking to the 2012 draft, saying a certain party's draft will unlikely be accepted as it is. At the same time, however, he had repeatedly criticized the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the DP's predecessor, and now the DP for having failed to come up with any constitutional revision counterproposal.

However, as the ruling and opposition parties are likely to be at loggerheads over the matter even before the start of full-scale parliamentary deliberations, LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Hakubun Shimomura says the party will ''seal'' the 2012 draft.

The 2012 draft reflects a strong conservatism, and the opposition camp has grilled the LDP during the ongoing Diet session about the document's elimination of the Constitution's Article 97 guaranteeing the fundamental human rights. The 2005 draft is more restrained in substance from the 2012 version and does not contain the alter document's clause obliging family members to help one another. An LDP member expressed hope that concurrent deliberations on the 2005 and 2012 drafts are designed to show that the 2012 draft is not absolute.

The 2005 draft attempts to inscribe the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 of the Constitution as a self-defense military, and there is no guarantee that the DP will soften its stand on opposing alterations to the war-renouncing article.

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