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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 February 5 - 10  > LDP move to use coronavirus issue to add ‘emergency clause’ to Constitution unacceptable
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2020 February 5 - 10 [POLITICS]

LDP move to use coronavirus issue to add ‘emergency clause’ to Constitution unacceptable

February 9, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Liberal Democratic Party seeks to take advantage of the major outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus to realize its long-held ambition to revise the Constitution. High-ranking LDP officials recently indicated that in order to deal with emergencies like an outbreak of an infectious disease in Japan, an “emergency clause” should be added to the Constitution so that the government will be able to declare a state of emergency and limit people’s rights when it thinks necessary. The adding of an “emergency clause” is one of the main pillars in the LDP’s proposal for constitutional revision, along with the explicit stipulation about the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces. It is totally inappropriate for the LDP to use public concern over the spread of a viral infection to argue for the need to amend the Constitution.

LDP member of the House of Representatives Ibuki Bunmei used the issue of the newly-identified coronavirus to call for the creation of an emergency clause. Ibuki, a former Speaker of the Lower House, on January 30 at a meeting of his party faction said that the spread of the new coronavirus-induced pneumonia is an example of an emergency and that this can be a test case. Two days later, LDP Election Strategy Committee Chair Shimomura Hakubun, who headed the LDP constitutional revision promotion headquarters, in his speech said, “Human rights are important, but the public welfare is also important. We should start discussions on constitutional revision in the Diet in order to handle the current situation.”

In addition, at a Lower House Budget Committee meeting on January 28, a lawmaker of the “Nippon Ishin no Kai” party stressed the need for Diet discussions on constitutional amendments by citing the new-coronavirus-caused pneumonia and the need for an emergency clause. In reply, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said that an emergency provision is worth discussing and that he hopes that both the ruling and opposition parties will actively hold deliberations regarding the provision at meetings of the Constitution Commissions in both Houses.

Proponents of an emergency clause insist that when an emergency arises, the government should be able to limit people’s rights with government ordinances based on Cabinet approval without having to undergo a legislative process. Explaining its proposal on an emergency clause, the LDP claims that the clause is intended for large scale natural disasters, but some LDP members have stated that the clause should cover military conflicts as well.

PM Abe has repeatedly expressed his strong desire to revise the Constitution while serving as the LDP president. However, Abe’s attempt has so far been unsuccessful and the LDP was unable to present its draft constitution to the parliament in the last four Diet sessions. The far-fetched argument tying the coronavirus with an emergency clause reflects the frustration of pro-revisionists.

Past related articles:
> Japan rushed toward war of aggression by abusing emergency clauses: scholar [June 25-27, 2016]
> Abe seeks to add emergency clause to Constitution [January 5, 2016]

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