Japan Ruling Party Bigwig Toshimitsu Motegi Seeks Multiparty Consensus on Constitutional Revision, Not in Hurry to Challenge for Top LDP Post

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi speaks in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi believes multiparty consensus is a prerequisite for constitutional amendment. Speaking with The Yomiuri Shimbun just ahead of his two-year anniversary in the post, the 68-year-old shared his views on constitutional revision, stable Imperial succession and the prospects for an early national referendum. The following are excerpts from his exclusive interview:

The Yomiuri Shimbun: What are your thoughts on the debate about constitutional reform?

Toshimitsu Motegi: Under the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida the Commission on the Constitution at both houses of the Diet has been meeting more frequently. I don’t think moves toward constitutional revision have slowed. We’d like to give the public options as early as possible regarding the form that the Constitution could take in this new era, and realize constitutional reform.

To build early consensus, one approach would be to prioritize a list of items for amendment. It may prove difficult to simultaneously realize [the LDP-proposed constitutional revision of four items] in a short period. We need to obtain support from as many parties as possible before putting our proposal to a national referendum. If our first attempt fails, constitutional amendment could be delayed by five to 10 years. In addition to considerations of speed, it’s also important to consider the optimal approach.

Yomiuri: How will you advance discussions aimed at ensuring stable Imperial succession?

Motegi: This is an extremely important theme that concerns the fundamentals of the nation. We intend to establish a body under the direct control of the party president and present our plans as soon as possible. Careful discussions are necessary due to the nature of the issue, but we’ve already narrowed down the themes for discussion, so it’s not a matter that will require a lot of time to reach a conclusion. We’ll eventually set up a council of parliamentary groups under the leaders of both chambers in the Diet to hold talks.

Yomiuri: How do you feel about the fact that some people have criticized the prime minister’s tax cuts plan?

Motegi: It’s necessary to carefully explain the purpose of the policy. As an initial step toward transforming the country into a growth-oriented economy, tax cuts will be introduced to help raise households’ disposable income and stimulate wage hikes. It’s likely difficult to understand the plan as it’s tied up with short-term measures to counter high prices, such as a cash provision program aimed at low-income households.

Yomiuri: The LDP plans to add the Democratic Party for the People to the ruling coalition in the future. What can you tell us about that?

Motegi: The LDP and the DPFP share ideas in many fields, including the economy, security and constitutional revisions. We’d like to deal sincerely with constructive proposals and move our policies forward. The coalition framework is merely a means to an end. First and foremost, the LDP has to be internally robust. The DPFP and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) have submitted proposals regarding economic stimulus measures, and I believe many of those ideas will be incorporated into the government’s economic policy. I’d appreciate it if those parties support the supplementary budget bill.

Yomiuri: Do you intend to run in the party presidential election in autumn 2024?

Motegi: I’ve been just reappointed as the party’s secretary general, and my mission is to support the Kishida administration. I’ve held various posts within the party and in the Cabinet. Each appointment allowed me to have many great experiences and expand my personal connections. Taking one’s time has never seemed a bad idea to me, so I’m not in a hurry. However, I appreciate that my colleagues and supporters have expectations; I’m fully aware of that.

Motegi was initially elected to the Diet in 1993 after building a career in the private sector, including spending time as a management consultant. Having served as foreign minister and party policy council chairperson, he landed his current post in November 2021. He heads the Motegi faction, the third-largest group within the LDP.