LDP panel restarts Constitution talks

Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — A panel of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday resumed talks to draft the party’s proposal to amend the nation’s Constitution.

The LDP headquarters for constitutional amendment held the first plenary meeting since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled the party leadership team, as well as the Cabinet, in early August.

The meeting focused on a proposed revision of war-renouncing Article 9 to clearly stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces.

The Article 9 revision, backed by Abe as one of his four proposals for constitutional amendment, has met with objections from some party members.

“It’s difficult to make progress in talks [on the proposed revision] unless some clues are given as to how the proposed SDF provision would be written,” Okiharu Yasuoka, head of the party headquarters, said.

Prior to the plenary meeting, Yasuoka told a board meeting of the panel of his plan to submit a blueprint for a possible Article 9 revision, based on Abe’s proposal, when the panel enters the next round of talks on the issue.

The other three of Abe’s proposals call for revisions to enable an extension of lawmakers’ terms in emergency situations such as major natural disasters, fully realize free-of-charge education and unwind the mergers of four thinly populated prefectural constituencies for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, into two carried out under a revised law in 2015.

In June, LDP President Abe announced his eagerness to submit his party’s proposal to amend the supreme law during an extraordinary Diet session in autumn this year. But he has backpedaled on the plan in the face of a slump in his Cabinet’s approval ratings.

On Tuesday, LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai attended the plenary meeting of the constitutional panel, apparently aiming to maintain momentum toward constitutional amendment by showing the party leadership’s initiative.

The LDP panel will next meet on Sept. 20 to cover the issue of an emergency extension of lawmakers’ terms.Speech

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