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PM Abe's video remarks about war-renouncing Article 9 going too far: expert

Asaho Mizushima (Mainichi)

Experts reacted sharply to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's video message that was released on May 3, in which he expressed his strong desire to see a revised Constitution take effect in 2020, with a new clause on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) added while upholding the first and second paragraphs of war-renouncing Article 9 of the supreme law.

The following is an excerpt of an interview with Waseda University professor Asaho Mizushima, who is specialized in the Constitution.

"It comes as a surprise that the prime minister has abruptly set a deadline and referred to revising Article 9 by going so far as to mention the timing for putting the revision into force. Diet deliberations recently focused on whether to extend lawmakers' terms in the event of major disasters, among other topics, and debate on Article 9 had not even started yet. It is going too far for the head of the executive branch of the government to make such a statement as if he were ordering the direction of the discussion.

"The idea of defining the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution while maintaining the first and second paragraphs of Article 9 runs counter to the arguments by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the prime minister himself as they have heretofore pushed for changing the second paragraph. It is illogical to define the SDF's existence by adding a new clause while upholding the second paragraph, which renounces the maintenance of the potential for war. I wonder if this was meant to be a message to Komeito (the LDP's coalition partner), which has advocated adding new provisions to the current Constitution. Likewise, the prime minister's remarks about making higher education tuition-free may also be a message directed to Nippon Ishin (the Japan Innovation Party).

"Behind the prime minister's message that is inconsistent with his earlier arguments appears to lie the scandal over the Moritomo Gakuen school corporation. The prime minister has pledged that he would resign as prime minister and as a lawmaker if he or his wife were proven to have played a part in the scandal. Does the prime minister have the right, in the first place, to bring up constitutional amendment when he has yet to fulfill his accountability over an issue that has attracted a great deal of public attention?

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