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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 15 - 21  > LDP’s use of COVID-19 crisis for constitutional revision to introduce ‘emergency provision’ unforgivable
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2020 April 15 - 21 TOP3 [POLITICS]

LDP’s use of COVID-19 crisis for constitutional revision to introduce ‘emergency provision’ unforgivable

April 16, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Taking advantage of growing public concern over the COVID-19 spread, some Liberal Democratic Party politicians have been arguing that an “emergency provision” should be added to the Constitution. The adding of this provision along with the legitimation of the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 provide the pillars for Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s constitutional revision attempt. This provision has long been criticized for concentrating all powers to the government and having a risk of trampling on human rights. The LDP should stop pushing forward with its attempt to amend the supreme law by using the current situation as if to fish in troubled waters.

A draft constitution of the LDP, which was compiled in response to PM Abe’s proposal on Constitution Memorial Day (May 3) three years ago, includes an “emergency provision” in addition to a clause stipulating the legitimacy of the SDF. This provision enables the Cabinet to establish government ordinances in the event of large-scale natural catastrophes or crises which make it difficult for the Diet to enact laws. Accordingly, such an arrangement has a risk maximizing Cabinet power and authority, restricting people’s human rights, and preventing democracy from fully functioning.

The history of the world should instruct us about the danger that misapplication of a constitutional provision regarding a state of emergency could bring about human rights violations and lead to suppression of free speech. In pre-WWII Germany, Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution providing critical emergency powers to the president was misused, which consequently cleared the road to the Nazi power grab. The misuse of emergency powers also took place in prewar Japan under the Meiji Constitution. After the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, the misapplication of martial law increased with the implementation of a wartime policy of concentrating powers to the military through the issuance of an emergency imperial edict. Under this policy, the mass slaughter of Koreans committed by vigilantes and military troops occurred. Lessons learned from prewar Japan’s bitter history helped to bring into being the post-war Japanese Constitution which has no provision regarding emergency powers.

A call for revising the Constitution to include an emergency provision goes against the present public need for government measures to prevent the coronavirus spread. The urgent need now is for the Abe government to provide compensation for losses in earnings caused by its stay-at-home and business suspension requests. The LDP, as a pretext for the need to change the Constitution, cites required responses when a state of emergency arises after the dissolution of the House of Representatives. In this regard, Article 54 of the Constitution stipulates an emergency session of the House of Councilors will be called in case of national emergency.

It is totally unacceptable for the LDP and PM Abe to go forward with their constitutional revision attempt while the ongoing corona crisis is threatening people’s lives and livelihoods.

Past related articles:
>LDP move to use coronavirus issue to add ‘emergency clause’ to Constitution unacceptable [February 9, 2020]
>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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