The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is imperative to think about what form the Constitution should have so as to meet the needs of a new era. Individual political parties must actively present their views about the top law to deepen discussions.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented the idea of seeking public opinion on whether to advance constitutional debate in the House of Councillors election.
Since last year, the commissions on the Constitution in each chamber of the Diet has failed to function properly. This is because the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and other opposition parties have not complied with requests to hold sessions of the commissions, as they oppose constitutional revision under the initiative of the Abe Cabinet. Abe’s sense of a problem regarding constitutional revision is understandable.
The biggest point of contention is how to deal with Article 9, which is concerned with the Self-Defense Forces. The SDF’s roles of protecting peace and securing the people’s safety have been gaining in importance. Dispelling concern about the unconstitutionality of the SDF is a matter of great significance.
The Liberal Democratic Party’s revision proposal calls for stipulating the maintenance of the SDF as an organization to enforce necessary self-defense measures while maintaining Paragraph 2 of Article 9, which rejects the possession of any war potential. This is aimed at making it easier to win the approval of other parties by keeping Paragraph 2.
Komeito’s stance is to add provisions when necessary, and the party takes a cautious view of the LDP’s proposal on revising Article 9, saying that “many people do not consider the SDF to be unconstitutional.” It is indispensable for the two ruling coalition parties to reconcile their views on the matter.
In connection with Article 9, the CDPJ has decided that security-related laws, which include approval on limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense, are unconstitutional. Extremely strict requirements are set for exercise of the collective defense right, including that Japan’s survival must be at risk.
It is essential to discuss the matter in a coolheaded manner, taking into consideration the importance of the SDF and the severe security environment surrounding Japan.
In their campaign pledges for the upper house poll, the CDPJ and the Democratic Party for the People have called for restricting the prime minister’s authority to dissolve the House of Representatives and for enhancing the people’s right to know. Nippon Ishin no Kai has put forth such policies as making education free.
Each political party must explain the aims and content of its policies in concrete terms.
To realize constitutional revision, two-thirds or more of the lawmakers in each chamber of the Diet must initiate the revision and approval must be granted by a majority of voters in a national referendum. One of the focal points in the upper house poll is whether the ruling coalition parties can secure two-thirds of the upper house seats, including those not contested this time.
Taking into consideration a national referendum, it is desirable to put together a constitutional revision proposal by securing approval of constitutional amendments from as many parties as possible. The ruling and opposition parties should sincerely discuss how the nation’s top law should be, keeping a distance from the political situation.
The Constitution, which stipulates the system for national governance and the people’s rights and obligations, is deeply related to the livelihood of each member of the public. It is necessary to deepen understanding of the Constitution through the upper house election.