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LDP panel to focus on keeping Article 9's 2nd paragraph in constitutional revision debate

Liberal Democratic Party Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution chief Hiroyuki Hosoda, center, greets members gathered at a general meeting at party headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Feb. 28, 2018. (Mainichi)

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s constitution panel is set to focus on a plan to retain the second paragraph of the Constitution's Article 9 in its discussion on revisions to the war-renouncing clause, as the panel eyes forming an intraparty consensus on the issue ahead of the party convention next month.

Under the plan up for party debate, a new clause will be added to Article 9 as "Article 9-2" to provide for the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) as "an organization with force existing at the minimum necessary level," while retaining the article's second paragraph, which bans Japan from possessing any war potential.

The LDP's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution on Feb. 28 presented two types of proposals relating to Article 9 at a general meeting held at party headquarters. One of the proposed clauses retained the existing second paragraph, while the other deleted and revised the paragraph. Headquarters chief Hiroyuki Hosoda announced that the panel would create a draft clause in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal to retain the second paragraph, and would put it to discussion alongside the other proposal forgoing that paragraph at a meeting to be held the week after next.

The panel had earlier received proposals for the revision from more than 100 party legislators. The panel then sorted out the proposals into three categories -- one for retaining the second paragraph and specifying the existence of the SDF; one for maintaining the second paragraph and specifying Japan's right to self-defense; and one for deleting and revising the second paragraph. The panel distributed documents elaborating on the three types of proposals at the general meeting on Feb. 28.

Legislators present at the session were divided over the proposed revisions, with one in favor of a plan to retain the second paragraph saying, "It would be realistic (to uphold the second paragraph) in order to gain approval of a majority in a public referendum (over constitutional amendment)," and others calling for deletion of the second paragraph. Former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said, "It would be deceptive to say that the SDF does not constitute the potential for war."

The LDP's draft for constitutional revision unveiled in 2012 is premised on removing the second paragraph. Naoki Okada, secretary-general of the party constitution panel, told reporters after the meeting, "We would like to draw up a rough draft representing the plan to retain the second paragraph and compare it with other proposals."

The panel is also expected to add a provision specifying that the prime minister holds the supreme command of the SDF in its draft revision.

The group aims to build an intraparty consensus on the issue ahead of the party convention scheduled to be convened on March 25.


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