Deepen discussions by narrowing down points of contention

There have been more opportunities to discuss the Constitution, but it is undeniable that the discussions seem to be becoming more diffuse. It is necessary to narrow down the points of discussion and start considering specific items to amend the Constitution.

The commissions on the Constitution of both Diet chambers have separately held free debates. The commissions finally began holding sessions on a regular basis from this year’s ordinary Diet session, following a change of leadership last year in the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which had been reluctant to hold such discussions.

In the House of Representatives’ commission, the Liberal Democratic Party called for hastening consideration for the creation of a state-of-emergency clause. The party proposed a system that would allow lawmakers to extend their terms under the assumption that a national election might not be held for a long period of time in the event of a major disaster or emergency.

Ukraine has maintained the functioning of its parliament, enacting laws, among other activities, since Russia’s invasion. Even in times of emergency, it is important to ensure that the Constitution and the Diet function properly.

The CDPJ criticized the government’s decision to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling it a violation of freedom of thought and conscience by forcing people to offer condolences. The government did not ask the people to observe a moment of silence and raise a flag of condolence, so the CDPJ’s criticism does not apply.

The Japanese Communist Party pointed to the LDP’s links with the Unification Church, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

Even though open debate allows each party to present its views freely, the current situation — in which the opposition parties are using this opportunity to criticize other parties instead of having substantial discussions — is simply too much to tolerate. The commissions on the Constitution are supposed to serve as forums to discuss the content of the nation’s top law. There is no place for political maneuvering.

Discussions between the ruling and opposition parties also failed to mesh in the House of Councillors’ commission. The CDPJ argued that the LDP’s eagerness to amend the Constitution may have been influenced by the Unification Church.

The opinion that the Constitution should be amended in light of the changing times is widespread among the public. The claim that the LDP’s call for constitutional amendment is attributable to the Unification Church is akin to a baseless accusation.

Meanwhile, the LDP called for the elimination of merged constituencies that have been created by making neighboring prefectures into single constituencies in the upper house electoral system.

In recent years, the judiciary has emphasized vote-value equality. However, if the number of merged constituencies increases as the priority shifts to rectifying vote-value disparities, problems arise, such as how to reflect in national politics the will of people in regional areas.

In the commissions on the Constitution and the upper house’s reform council, the ruling and opposition parties should consider how to create an electoral system that suits the times by taking into consideration matters such as the power and roles of both Diet chambers.

The LDP has drawn up a four-point constitutional revision plan that includes a proposal to amend Article 9, and the Democratic Party for the People has also sorted out issues to deliberate. It is about time for each party to present and discuss revision plans.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 11, 2022)