Tokyo lacks public support in revising constitution

Updated: 2013-07-16 11:16

By Cai Hong (China Daily)

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The Japanese public does not share the enthusiasm of the country's politicians, especially parliamentarians from the Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan Restoration Party, in their push to revise Japan's Peace Constitution.

At an exhibition in Tokyo from July 12 to 15 of written testimonies of some 100 Japanese veterans who served in World War II, several old soldiers warned the government not to amend the constitution and said Japan should keep Article 9, which renounces war.

Opinion polls conducted by Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun in March and April found 54 percent of respondents oppose the LDP's proposal, compared with 38 percent in support.

In its draft proposal on constitutional revisions last year, the LDP said it intends to amend Article 9, which is seen as a symbol of Japan's commitment to peace.

Despite that, a clear majority of Japanese are set to support Abe and his ruling LDP in Sunday's upper house election.

A Kyodo News poll found 97.1 percent of LDP candidates favor revising the constitution. Only 63.6 percent of those who plan to run for New Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner, think the constitution should be revised, compared with 23.4 percent of the candidates from the Democratic Party of Japan.

The LDP may be able to rally the necessary two-thirds vote in both chambers of Japan's Diet if the ruling party wins Sunday's election. But any amendments must be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum.

Abe has been promoting an amendment to Article 96 to ease revision criteria, arguing the hurdles are too high. If he gets his way, a simple majority in both houses of the Diet and a national referendum would suffice to amend the constitution. The LDP plans to enact legislation to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 for referendums on the constitution.

Tokyo lacks public support in revising constitution

Abe and the pro-revisionists view Japan's constitution as a legacy of the post-war US occupation from 1945-52, and foreign influence.

Establishing a "self-imposed constitution" has been the LDP's credo since its 1955 founding. Abe's resolve and the LDP's proposal on constitutional revision have raised alarm among his critics, particularly since it could return Japan to its socially conservative, authoritarian past. Critics say the attempt to lower the hurdles for revising the constitution isn't really about Article 9, but is more about trying to bring back the constitution to its old, authoritarian state, something the hawkish prime minister and the LDP are keen on reviving.

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