Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), announced plans to submit the Diet a draft new Constitution by autumn, hoping to get the required support to pass it by next year.
“We hope to submit LDP proposals to the Constitution Commission before the end of the extraordinary Diet session,” Abe said when he spoke at the Kobe “Seiron (Sound Opinion)” Social Club’s commemorative lecture at the Kobe Portopia Hotel on June 24.
Abe said the intention is to begin deliberations on the draft at the start of the next year’s ordinary session, and, gaining support from more than two-thirds of both houses of parliament, to deliver a motion.
“The Constitution speaks to the future of a nation and its ideals. In this, the 70th anniversary year of the Constitution’s promulgation, our party has resolved to stand at the forefront, to take a historic step forward,” the Prime Minister said.
He wants to fast-track the debate within the LDP Constitutional Amendment Promotion Headquarters. “We hope that 2020, as the year of the Tokyo Olympics, will also be the year Japan moves forward with the promulgation of a new constitution,” Abe said.
This show of resolve from the Prime Minister is a call for the conservatives to rally around the party platform of constitutional revision.
He makes this call amid the rapidly falling Cabinet approval rating, brought about by scandals involving young members of the lower house. There is also the pressure from opposition parties over the Kakei Gakuen issue regarding plans to utilize the National Strategic Special Zones in the development of a new veterinary medicine faculty.
Furthermore, it is also aimed at overthrowing the Yuriko Koike-led “Tokyo Citizens First” Party in the Tokyo Assembly Election (July 2), the electoral exercise that is used to gauge outcomes of future elections.
Focus on the Self-Defense Forces
Taking up Article 9 of the Constitution, Prime Minister Abe emphasized: “It is too irresponsible to continue to say to SDF (Self-Defense Forces) members that, ‘You’re probably unconstitutional, but if there is an emergency, please put your life on the line.’ As party leader, I cannot ignore this situation.”
He added: “We must put an end to the debate of it’s constitutional, it’s not constitutional. We will consider revision bills, which will incorporate the role and significance of the SDF into the Constitution, while leaving Article 9, Section 1, Paragraph 2, intact.”
On the topic of making higher education free, he emphasized that “it is a very important theme which cannot be ignored in any revision of the Constitution.”
Highlighting the reality that less students from poor households are able to continue on to high school and university, he said, “We must break the poverty cycle. The door to higher education must be open for all children.”
Economy as Highest Priority
The Prime Minister also spoke about economic recovery: “Abenomics is only midway through. From here on, the economy remains the highest priority for the Cabinet.”
He pushed for improvements in labor productivity, saying, “The most important measure will be to revolutionize our way of working.” Abe said he aims to submit a proposal regarding equal pay for equal work, overtime regulations with penalties, and so forth, to the extraordinary Diet session in autumn.
In addition, he outlined that, at the G20 Summit on July 7-8, “We want to verify clear intentions to fight against protectionism.” At the European Union Summit Meeting, “we want to aim for a framework agreement between Japan and the EU Economic Partnership Agreement. It is the model for 21st century economic order.”
Regarding deregularization of the National Strategic Special Zones, he stated: “Regulatory reform, which meets the needs of the times, does not distort the government, but rather rectifies a distorted government. Promoting the reform of bedrock regulations is my purpose as Prime Minister.”
(Click here for the original report in Japanese.)