Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has mapped his priorities regarding revisions in the Constitution; first to tackle the amendment requirements of the Constitution currently set at two-thirds or more of all members of both Diet chambers, and the revision of Article 9 to intentionally and specifically mention the role of Self-Defense Forces.
Prime Minister Abe revealed as such in an interview on Monday, that the Article 96 revision would be his Liberal Democratic Party’s top priority, even as this summer’s House of Councillors election approaches. Abe is of the opinion that the required number of votes to propose amendments to the Constitution should be lowered to a simple majority in both Diet chambers. “It’s unfair that just more than one-third of lawmakers could block revisions even if 50 percent or more of the public want to amend the Constitution,” Abe said. “We’ll ask the people to support this issue by making it a pillar of our pledges for the upper house election.” This vision is said to be widely accepted throughout the government and should be a realistic target for Abe’s administration. The prime minister emphasized that Japan should not romanticize its Constitution as a code of laws that would remain unchanged, and instead realize that some of its contents may not be suited to modern times. There should be no fear of this change, he said, as even nations like the United States, France and Germany have undertaken several constitutional changes of their own to reflect the current times.
Abe is also pursuing to lower the voting age from 20 to 18, citing supplementary clauses of the National Referendum Law on lowering the age of adulthood and suffrage. Another target, albeit probably a more difficult one to get to, is Abe’s push to rewrite Article 9, as he says that the Constitution “does not refer to the Self-Defense Forces–an organization possessing an extremely high level of military power by global standards.” He is likely to experience a fair amount of opposition for this, especially from coalition partner New Komeito, who believe that a re-interpretation to Article 9 will not be forthcoming.
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