Japan's Abe sets 2020 as target for new constitution amid public contention

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-03 15:21:16|Editor: Xiang Bo
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TOKYO, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that he hopes to see a revised constitution go into effect in 2020 under a plan that will see the first-ever change to the post-war charter.

Speaking in a video message at a gathering to celebrate the he 70th anniversary of the constitution being enacted, Abe said he wanted the language in the revised constitution to mention Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

The current charter makes no mention of the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in its war-renouncing pledges, which has led to a great deal of controversy regarding the constitutionality of Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party camp's push to expand the scope of the nation's forces.

"By making explicit the status of the SDF in the constitution during our generation's lifetime, we should leave no room for contending that the SDF may be unconstitutional," the prime minister said.

In an upper house election held last July, Abe's ruling coalition won a sweeping majority and along with conservative and pro-revision forces, the ruling camp command a two-thirds majority in both chambers necessary to call a national referendum on changing the constitution.

Article 9 of Japan's pacifist constitution states that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

It goes on to state that ... "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

Public opinions about amending the Constitution, however, remain differed.

According to a recent poll by Japan's Kyodo News, 51 percent of the respondents were against any constitutional amendments under the Abe administration, while 45 percent were in favor.