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LDP panel to include limits to private rights in 'emergency clause' draft

In this this Feb. 28, 2018 file photo, Hiroyuki Hosoda, chief of the Liberal Democratic Party's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, addresses a general meeting of the panel at party headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s constitutional amendment panel is set to include provisions to restrict people's private rights and centralize authority in the government in the event of major disasters and other emergencies in its draft revision to the supreme law, it has been learned.

While proposals in the Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution about the "emergency clause" so far centered around extending the terms of Diet members as an exceptional measure in the event of emergencies, the panel bowed to strong calls within the party that the amendment should be in line with the party's constitutional revision draft unveiled in 2012, which specifies restrictions on private rights in emergency situations.

The panel will present the latest proposal at a general meeting on March 7 and seek to form an intraparty consensus.

On March 5, the panel discussed at an informal executive meeting the issue of rights given to the government in a state of emergency aimed at restricting private rights such as movement of the people and compulsory acquisition of land for disaster recovery.

One of the attendees at the meeting expressed readiness to accept such a right, saying, "Provisions for the state emergency right can exist for cases such as the Diet not functioning due to a major quake hitting along the Nankai Trough and other events."

Late last year, the panel summarized the points of contention focusing on two proposals -- one for providing for an extension of Diet legislators' terms in times of emergencies, and the other for stipulating such a term extension plus providing for the state emergency right. The leadership of the panel had initially planned to adopt the first proposal, in light of strong criticism that the restriction of private rights could lead to a limitation of human rights.

At a general meeting of the panel in January, however, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba and other conservative legislators demanded that the panel's draft amendment specify the state emergency right, as the 2012 revision draft did. One attendee also urged the inclusion of the right, saying, "If the revision is to solely include an extension of legislators' terms, it could give the impression that the amendment is aimed at guaranteeing lawmakers' status." The leadership ended up making a turnaround to adopt the state emergency right as well.

The panel has yet to delve into the detailed scope of the clause, though, such as whether to include domestic turmoil in the definition of a "state of emergency." The group is expected to discuss the details at the March 7 general meeting by presenting multiple revision proposals.

Meanwhile, the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito is reluctant to add the restriction of private rights in the draft, with deputy leader Kazuo Kitagawa saying, "I don't find any necessity (to provide for the restriction) in the Constitution." The opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), which is in favor of amending the pacifist Constitution, also maintains reservations about the move, raising the possibility that the LDP's consultations with other parties toward a Diet proposal for constitutional revision may hit a snag.

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