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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 17 - 23  > Opposition deters constitutional revisionists from winning two thirds majority in Upper House
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2019 July 17 - 23 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Opposition deters constitutional revisionists from winning two thirds majority in Upper House

July 23, 2019

Akahata editorial

In the House of Councilors election on July 21, the Japanese Communist Party secured seven seats: four in proportional representation blocks and three in prefectural electorates, including one in Saitama for the first time in 21 years. The party, however, fell short of its previous strength of eight seats. In 32 single-seat constituencies where the JCP and other opposition parties built electoral cooperation, a joint opposition candidate beat a Liberal Democratic Party rival in ten constituencies. This was a significant success thanks to the collaboration between the opposition parties and concerned citizens.

The JCP expresses its appreciation to all the people who supported and worked hard to achieve the joint opposition candidates' victories. In order to meet the expectations placed upon the JCP, the party will continue making efforts to realize a political climate filled with hope and to create a society where everyone can live with dignity.

Opposition wins in 10 districts

Meanwhile, the LDP secured 57 seats, down nine from its previous strength. With the Komei Party's seats combined, the ruling coalition won 63 seats, obtaining a majority. However, the pro-amendment forces consisting of the LDP, the Komei, and the "Nippon Ishin no Kai" could not obtain a two-thirds majority necessary to initiate amendments to the Constitution.

The LDP in its election platform presented draft amendments to the Constitution, calling for the recognition of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo argued for constitutional revision in his kick-off speech and repeated calling for revision in his street speeches up until the end of campaign period. In the election, where constitutional revision was a major issue, to have prevented the pro-amendment forces from gaining a two-thirds majority is indeed significant.

PM Abe in a press conference held after the election displayed his eagerness to achieve constitutional revision by 2020 in spite of the election results. In the first place, most people do not want the Constitution or its Article 9 revised in the way PM Abe insists. According to exit polls conducted by Kyodo News Service, 47.5% of voters surveyed were opposed to Abe-promoted constitutional changes while 40.8% were in favor. During the campaign period, there was a heated debate over PM Abe’s move to amend the Constitution to turn the Self-Defense Forces into armed forces fighting in wars. It is unreasonable for Abe to use the election outcome as a reason to accelerate his move to revise Article 9 of the Constitution.

As a result of the election. the pro-constitutional revision forces lost their two-thirds majority in the House of Councilors. The largest factor behind this fact is that joint opposition candidates beat their LDP rivals in 10 of 32 single-member constituencies. In the previous House of Councilors election in 2016, joint struggles between opposition parties and concerned citizens were realized for the first time in national elections and brought about victories in 11 of the 32 single-seat districts. In the latest election, opposition parties and concerned citizens again produced similarly good results. This shows that the “wholehearted collaboration” of the opposition parties and concerned citizens has power to confront the Abe government’s reckless moves and change politics for the better.

Before the start of the election campaign, five opposition parties made an agreement on common items to be included in their election platforms. The first one of the items was to “oppose the Abe government’s push for constitutional revision, Article 9 in particular, and do the utmost to prevent the Diet from initiating constitutional amendments”. It is essential to further promote the joint struggle and unified efforts to deter PM Abe’s moves to create a war fighting nation.

Keep working to create new form of politics

In the Okinawa electoral district, the joint opposition candidate was elected with his pledge to oppose the central government plan to construct a new U.S. base in the prefecture. In the Akita constituency, despite pump-priming support by Abe and other LDP executives, the LDP candidate suffered a loss to a unified opposition candidate objecting to the Abe government plan to deploy the “Aegis Ashore” ground-based missile defense system to Akita. In the Niigata constituency, an LDP incumbent candidate, who recently resigned as a deputy minister over controversial remarks, lost his seat. He said that he had been involved in a favoritism scheme concerning PM Abe and public works projects. The general public is skeptical of and angry at the Abe government which is tainted with its high-handed tactics and favoritism. Election exit polls show that a majority of the respondents were opposed to the planned consumption tax increase to 10%. The need now is to strengthen public opinion and movements to put an end to the Abe government and open up a path toward a new direction in politics.

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