Kishida stresses willingness to include SDF in top law

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a video message to a constitutional study meeting in Hiroshima on Tuesday.

In a video message released on the Constitution Day national holiday on Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized willingness to push ahead with constitutional revisions such as clarifying the status of the Self-Defense Forces in the top law.

Kishida delivered the video message as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party during a meeting of a pro-constitutional revision group, which was held on the day.

Referring to four items touted in the LDP’s constitutional revision draft, including clarifying the status of the SDF in the supreme law, Kishida said, “They are all very much issues of today and need to be realized as soon as possible.”

The LDP aims for in-depth discussions based on the four-item constitutional revision draft, which it compiled in 2018. The four items are clarifying the status of the SDF in the Constitution; creating an emergency provision; dissolving merged constituencies in the House of Councillors; and improving education.

Kishida implied that the constitutionality of the SDF should be clarified more clearly by stating the grounds for the SDF’s existence.

“The SDF are working hard to respond to large-scale disasters and the novel coronavirus pandemic, and are appreciated and supported by the people,” Kishida said. “Nevertheless, it’s also true that some people consider the SDF unconstitutional.”

The LDP’s draft states that a new clause should be added to Article 9 to state grounds for possession of the SDF while retaining the rest of Article 9, which renounces war and forbids the possession of war potential.

Kishida also called for promoting discussions on an emergency provision, such as enabling the term of Diet members to be extended in the event of major disasters.

“There is growing interest [among the people] on preparations for an emergency in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

Kishida was cautious about speaking out on constitutional revision around the time he took office last year. However, he has gradually become more proactive in his remarks on the issue recently.

Kishida intends to expedite active debates on constitutional revision in the Diet if the LDP wins the upper house election in summer.