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Foreign Minister reluctant to revise war-renouncing Article 9 of Constitution, for now

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (Mainichi)

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he is not looking to immediately revise war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

Kishida made the statement at a meeting on May 11 of Kochikai, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) faction he leads.

He thus expressed his dovish view, which has been Kochikai's tradition, clarifying differences with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has recently proposed to revise the clause, while also displaying his enthusiasm about succeeding Abe after the prime minister's tenure is over.

At a faction seminar in October 2015, Kishida said the government drew a conclusion on the security legislation by discussing what Japan is allowed to do under Article 9. "We shouldn't immediately consider revising Article 9, on which the legislation is based," he said.

Kishida also stated, "I had said we should wait and see to ascertain achievements to be brought about by the peace and security legislation, and my idea remains unchanged."

Still, Foreign Minister Kishida's position to continue supporting the prime minister remains unchanged. During the May 11 meeting, the foreign minister said, "I'd like to confirm how different my idea is from the prime minister's remarks or whether both are the same."

Prime Minister Abe has proposed to add a third paragraph defining the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Article 9 while retaining its war-renouncing paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 that ban Japan from possessing any potential for war.

In the meantime, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, who is also viewed as a candidate to succeed Abe, told a TBS TV program, "I understand that the prime minister supports the 'Ashida revision.' If so, a paragraph stipulating that Japan shall have the SDF contribute to the country's independence and world peace can be added."

In 1946, Hitoshi Ashida, chairman of a Japanese government subcommittee on constitutional revisions, modified Article 9 of the draft of the current Constitution to add the phrase, "In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph," to paragraph 2. Ashida was of the view that by doing so, Japan could possess war potential which is not a "means of settling international disputes" banned by paragraph 1.

In May 2014, Prime Minister Abe stated that the government did not uphold the theory behind the Ashida revision.

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