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LDP shelves controversial constitutional draft

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has effectively shelved a controversial draft for a new Constitution that it drew up in 2012.

The decision was outlined at a full meeting of the party's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution on Oct. 18.

"We are not considering submitting the draft as is or with parts cut out to the commissions on the Constitution (at both houses of the Diet)," said Okiharu Yasuoka, chairman of the headquarters.

By moving a step closer to opposition parties, which had strongly criticized the draft and called for it to be scrapped, the party is hoping to accelerate discussion at the commissions on the Constitution in both houses of the Diet.

The 2012 draft, created when the LDP was an opposition party, stipulates the establishment of a "national defense military," changing Article 9, and declares the emperor as the head of state. The opposition Democratic Party had called for the draft to be scrapped before discussions on constitutional revision began, setting the parties on a collision course from the outset.

The meeting of the LDP's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution marked the first full session since the ruling party claimed victory in the July House of Councillors election.

Paying consideration to those within the party who support the draft, Yasuoka defined it as "an official document that our party released in the course of history." He added that its nature was not such that it could be retracted.

The party's headquarters is preparing to engage in debate on proposals including a draft constitution produced in 2005 that was more restrained than the 2012 version. It is believed that the party will narrow down the items for constitutional revision for which it would be easy to obtain consent from the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito as well as the opposition parties.

Attendees at the Oct. 18 meeting included Eisuke Mori, chairman of the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution, and former Defense Minister Gen Nakatani. Yoko Kamikawa, secretary-general of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, explained the details of discussions to date including the content of both drafts, and is due to exchange opinions with Diet members belonging to the LDP. Since the LDP regained power in late 2012, the lineup of Diet members has changed significantly.

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