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Japan's constitutional revision advocates divided over war-renouncing provision: survey

In this Aug. 24, 2021 photo, a Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport plane is seen before its departure from the ASDF's Iruma base in Saitama Prefecture, on a mission to evacuate Japanese nationals and locals working at Japanese organizations from Afghanistan. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama)

TOKYO -- Some 70% of the July 10 House of Councillors election winners from Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s junior coalition partner, said they were opposed to revising Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, in reply to a Mainichi Shimbun survey. This was in stark contrast with the LDP and conservative opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) where around 90% of the members responded that the Self-Defense Forces should be included in the war-renouncing provision.

    In response to the upper house race results, the Mainichi Shimbun went back to its survey conducted on all candidates and reexamined answers provided by the election winners on July 11. Of the 125 elected contenders, 121 had responded. The four parties in favor of constitutional revision -- the LDP, Komeito, Nippon Ishin and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) -- have together secured a two-thirds majority, or at least 166 seats, in the upper chamber, enough to propose constitutional revisions, but the gap within the pro-amendment camp remains wide.

    On revising Article 9, 87% of LDP winners, 92% of Nippon Ishin successful candidates and 40% of DPFP members said they wanted to include the Self-Defense Forces, while 69% of Komeito winners responded that they opposed changing Article 9. Of the four pro-amendment parties, Komeito was the only one with elected candidates who said no to such a revision. Meanwhile, 94% of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan were opposed to revising the Constitution, while all winners belonging to the Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party and Reiwa Shinsengumi were against constitutional amendment.

    Komeito also takes a different position over the establishment of an emergency clause in the supreme law which presupposes a major disaster. While 78% of the LDP, 92% of Nippon Ishin and 40% of the DPFP answered that if established, the clause should give more power to the Cabinet and allow term extensions for Diet members, 38% of Komeito members said there was "no need to revise the Constitution to create an emergency clause."

    While 31% of Komeito winners were in favor of establishing an emergency clause itself, all of them responded that "only a term extension should be allowed." Lawmakers have been deliberating on the possible inclusion of a provision in the Constitution under which the Cabinet would be able to issue an "emergency decree" with the same power as a regular law without Diet approval, but Komeito legislators remain wary of such a provision as it risks arbitrary operation which could restrict people's rights.

    (Japanese original by Ken Aoshima, Tokyo City News Department; and Ko Sato, Poll Office)

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