The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s constitutional amendment panel on March 14 discussed seven types of proposals for revising Article 9 of the Constitution to stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in the supreme law.
Hiroyuki Hosoda, chief of the party's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, presented the seven plans that either retain or delete the second paragraph of Article 9, which bans Japan from maintaining any war potential.
Among them, the panel seeks to build a consensus on a proposal for retaining the second paragraph and stipulating Japan's maintenance of the SDF as "an organization with force existing at the minimum necessary level" in a new clause to be created as "Article 9-2." The panel will further discuss the issue at a general meeting on March 15.
The seven proposals can be categorized into three groups -- ones for deleting the second paragraph from Article 9, ones for maintaining the second paragraph and stipulating the SDF, and ones for upholding the second paragraph and stating the country's right to self-defense.
With regard to the proposal to remove the second paragraph, two draft revisions were presented at the meeting -- the LDP's constitutional amendment draft unveiled in 2012, which stipulates Japan's possession of national defense forces, and a draft revision proposed by former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba and other officials, which stipulates Japan's maintenance of the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces "to secure peace and stability in the international community."
As for the proposal to retain the second paragraph in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wishes, five draft revisions were presented. Among them, the panel's leadership attaches top priority to a draft amendment providing that "the Self-Defense Forces will be maintained as an organization with force existing at the minimum necessary level, with the prime minister serving as its supreme commander."
Under the draft, it is proposed that a new, independent article will be created as "Article 9-2." By emphasizing that Article 9 will be retained, the party aims to dispel concerns surrounding the move to amend the war-renouncing article.
The stipulation of "the minimum necessary level" in the same draft is also aimed at easing a sense of resistance among the public. By upholding the government's position that the SDF does not constitute "war potential," the party is looking to address concerns about a possible expansion of the SDF's authority and duties.
For now, the panel will not formally adopt the draft revisions out of consideration for forthcoming discussion with other parties. Prime Minister Abe is expected to explain the "direction" of constitutional revision at a party convention scheduled for March 25.