LDP set to ramp up drive for constitutional revision

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, second from left, speaks at the meeting of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Realization of Revision of the Constitution.

The Liberal Democratic Party is set to embark on a full-scale drive to revise the Constitution, with the party holding its first general meeting of its Headquarters for the Realization of Revision of the Constitution at the LDP headquarters.

Attended by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the meeting decided Tuesday on the entity’s new board members, and on establishing a headquarters in each LDP prefectural chapter. The LDP intends to develop public momentum for constitutional revision and promote deeper discussions.

Kishida urged the party members to step up their efforts to revise the Constitution at the beginning of the meeting, saying, “Discussions in the Diet and the public’s understanding are the two wheels of a cart. I ask all of you to produce results through the concerted efforts of the party.”

“A change in the public mood will undoubtedly support the debate in the Diet,” he said.

Kishida also referred to the four points that comprise the party’s ideas on constitutional revision, which include specifying the legal grounds for the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 of the Constitution. “The [proposal for constitutional amendments] is an extremely contemporary issue, incorporating content that must be urgently realized for the people,” he said.

At the meeting, it was decided to establish a “constitutional revision and national movement committee” to be tasked with holding speeches and dialogue meetings nationwide. Diet members who have been actively involved in discussions on constitutional revision are planned to be dispatched as lecturers.

It was agreed that the draft of the campaign policy to be adopted at the party’s convention in March next year will clearly state the establishment of a headquarters for the realization of constitutional revision in every LDP prefectural chapter federation. Also, the policy of focusing on developing public opinion was confirmed.

Former Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Taro Aso were appointed as top advisers at the meeting. Aso is also the LDP vice president.

The entity is chaired by Keiji Furuya, the executive acting chairperson of the LDP Policy Research Council. At the meeting, former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo, who serves as the head of the ruling coalition’s commissions on the Constitution in both chambers of the Diet, and Junichi Ishii, acting secretary general in the House of Councillors, were appointed secretary general and deputy chairperson, respectively, to ensure “organic cooperation” between the party and the Diet.

Some party members hope there will be progress in the debate on constitutional reform under the Kishida Cabinet.

During the Abe administration, the opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, were wary of the former prime minister, whom they regarded as hawkish, and refused to enter into discussions on the topic. Kishida is considered more of a dove.

“The possibility for constitutional reform has increased because the Kishida administration has a liberal stance,” Abe said on a television program on Dec. 13.

Behind the heightened expectations is the fact that no House of Representatives election is expected for the time being unless the prime minister dissolves the lower house after next summer’s upper house election, assuming Kishida continues to serve as prime minister. This may create an environment in which the ruling and opposition parties can have a calm discussion about the constitutional revision.

At the ordinary Diet session to be convened in January, the LDP plans to propose to the opposition parties that they hold weekly meetings of commissions on the Constitution to discuss the issue thoroughly.