The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) pressed for amending Article 9 of the Constitution on Nov. 16, arguing that the war-renouncing provision lacks clarity about the status of the Self-Defense Forces and that it could be regarded as Japan denying its right to self-defense.
The LDP's Masaharu Nakagawa delivered the statement emphasizing the need to revise Article 9 at the House of Councillors Commission on the Constitution on Nov. 16 as deliberations on the subject resumed for the first time in nine months. It was the first discussion held at the commission since the upper house election in July, in which the pro-constitutional amendment camp secured a two-thirds majority in the chamber -- enough to initiate constitutional revisions along with the two-thirds majority held by the ruling coalition in the House of Representatives.
A total of 23 lawmakers from eight parties and parliamentary factions, including the LDP and the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP), exchanged opinions in regard to the Constitution.
Nakagawa told the commission, "We feel that the people are beginning to think the current Constitution will not be enough to protect themselves, their families, their community or their country." In addition to Article 9, Nakagawa named the Preamble, as well as clauses on the electoral system, local autonomy and private education aid as potential subjects for revision. He also argued for the establishment of an emergency clause and the extension of human rights such as environmental rights. Three other LDP members argued in support of amending Article 9.
DP lawmaker Shinkun Haku, on the other hand, pushed for preserving the current supreme law, saying, "What is required now is to evaluate the current Constitution fairly and protect it."
The LDP's 2012 draft revision to the Constitution stated that Japan was to have a national defense military. Prior to the restart of deliberations at the Constitution Commission at each chamber of the Diet, however, the LDP decided to effectively shelve the controversial draft. Nakagawa told the Nov. 16 commission meeting that the party does not intend to propose the 2012 draft as it is.
Despite the party's move, Nakagawa brought up making revisions to Article 9 apparently out of consideration for conservatives who hold hopes for constitutional amendments. With regard to the process in which the current Constitution was drawn up, Nakagawa said, "We can't be confident that the free will of the Japanese people was adequately reflected (in the process)."
While Kyoko Nakayama, head of the Party for Japanese Kokoro, agreed with the LDP's argument that the current Constitution was imposed by the Allied Powers' General Headquarters under the Allied occupation after World War II, Makoto Nishida of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito said, "It was not necessarily forced upon us one-sidedly," underscoring the difference between the LDP and Komeito over their understanding of the supreme law.