LDP seeks talks on adding emergency provisions to Constitution

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yoshitaka Shindo of the Liberal Democratic Party, third from left, speaks at a meeting of the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution on Thursday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party called Thursday for swift discussions on adding provisions to the Constitution to deal with emergency situations.

The LDP called for the talks during the free debate at the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution on Thursday, the first such debate of the current extraordinary Diet session. However, the leading opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was negative toward the idea, saying discussions should instead focus on the relationship between politics and religion, given the issues surrounding the Unification Church.

Yoshitaka Shindo of the LDP, who acts as chief director for the ruling parties at the commission, emphasized the need to actively debate the creation of provisions to deal with emergencies. The provisions are included in the four-point proposal compiled by the LDP for constitutional revision.

“Most members of the commission agree that whether to extend the term of Diet members [at a time of emergency] is an urgent issue,” Shindo said.

Coalition partner Komeito, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People are positive about extending Diet members’ terms in cases such as a large-scale disaster or the spread of an infectious disease.

“It is extremely important to maintain the functions of the Diet if the nation is under threat,” said Kazuo Kitagawa of Komeito. Ishin’s Nobuyuki Baba also called for understanding of Ishin’s proposals, including the creation of emergency-related provisions.

However, Masaharu Nakagawa of the CDPJ called for prioritizing such issues as the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and matters related to the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

“It’s time to discuss these issues,” Nakagawa said.

As a measure to help victims of the Unification Church, the CDPJ has proposed creating a system that would allow family members and others to cancel huge donations made by followers to the organization under mind control. However, there is criticism that such a system could violate property rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Takeshi Shina of the CDPJ stated: “Would the system infringe on the property rights of the victims? The commission should promptly compile opinions on the issue.”

Regarding the fact that some LDP lawmakers signed policy accords with Unification Church-affiliated organizations based overseas in exchange for support in national elections, Shina asked, “Does such an act run counter to the fundamental principle of popular sovereignty?”

The CDPJ, which includes liberal members, had repeatedly refused to hold meetings of the Commission on the Constitution. In the current Diet session, however, it decided to work with Ishin, which is active in constitutional revision.

A veteran CDPJ lawmaker said, “Our party will have difficult opposing meetings of the commission, because we have to show consideration to Ishin.”