Stalled debate on "unpopular" constitutional amendment resumes in Japan's parliament

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-07 20:27:23|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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TOKYO, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Lawmakers from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Thursday resumed debate for the first time in two years on the stalled and divisive issue of amending Japan's constitution.

Some lawmakers expressed concern about the "unpopular" proposition.

Takeshi Shina, an independent lawmaker belonging to a parliamentary group of opposition parties, said that the government needed to be cautious and focus on amendments that are "actually necessary."

"We should discuss articles of the constitution that really need to be amended, not matters that only require legal revisions," Shina said.

Thursday's debate at the House of Representatives' Commission on the Constitution came as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continues to pursue his legacy-led goal of amending Japan's pacifist charter.

Abe and other pro-revisionist forces have been pushing for Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to be referenced in the war-renouncing Article 9 of the pacifist charter amid widespread resistance from opposition parties and the public.

Such opposition has been evidenced by Japan's ruling coalition not achieving a two-thirds majority in July's upper house election.

The ruling LDP and its coalition Komeito ally, coupled with other factions intent on amending Japan's pacifist constitution, secured 81 seats in total in the poll for the upper caucus.

In total, when including the seats that were uncontested, the coalition and supporters garnered 160 seats, below the 164 needed in the upper chamber for a call to amend the pacifist constitution be initiated ahead of a public referendum on the matter.

Having fallen short of the requisite number of seats to smoothly push ahead with calling for the constitution to be amended and taking it to the public for a simple majority referendum, the prime minister will now need to garner the support from disinclined opposition parties in ongoing debates, such as the one on Thursday.

This will be more than a tough job going forward for Abe, owing not only to July's set back in the upper caucus vote, but also as debate on the issue comes amid an atmosphere of reluctance from the ruling party's own coalition partner, staunch disapproval from the entire opposition camp and a vocally unwilling public intent on defending Japan's pacifist identity.