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LDP bigwig urges party members to back PM Abe on pushing constitutional amendment

Bunmei Ibuki (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) heavyweight Bunmei Ibuki is providing cover fire for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the latter's drive to revise the postwar Constitution, encouraging fellow party faction lawmakers to speed up discussions on amendments.

At an Oct. 25 meeting of LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai's intraparty faction, Ibuki referred to Abe's calls for accelerating debate on constitutional revision made during the premier's policy speech at the opening of the autumn extraordinary Diet session a day earlier.

"Shinzo Abe feels deeply frustrated. He wonders what LDP lawmakers are doing when they belong to a party whose platform calls for introducing a new Constitution, and when the ruling bloc holds two-thirds of seats in the Diet (needed to initiate the revision process)," said Ibuki, a former speaker of the House of Representatives.

"I thought, 'Is it OK for the prime minister to say such a thing to the Diet?' The Cabinet does not have the right to make or submit constitutional changes. It's all up to you," Ibuki said, urging legislators present at the meeting to muster their powers to live up to the prime minister's expectations.

Meanwhile, former LDP Secretary-General Nobuteru Ishihara told a meeting of his own faction that the party's four-point draft revisions to the Constitution, including adding a provision specifying the existence of the Self-Defense Forces to the supreme law, "have earned a fairly bad reputation."

(Japanese original by Nozomu Takeuchi, Political News Department)

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