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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 June 10 - 16  > LDP and DPJ compete to remove Article 9
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2009 June 10 - 16 [POLITICS]

LDP and DPJ compete to remove Article 9

June 10, 2009
With the House of Representatives general election approaching, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan are intensifying the competition for being the loudest voice calling for a series of undemocratic policies, including cutting the number of Diet seats, sending troops abroad, revising the Constitution, and increasing the consumption tax. These policy objectives shared by the two parties pose the danger of taking the Japanese people down the path to an era of suppression of democracy and peace.

Constitutional revision

Apparently with the upcoming House of Representatives general election in mind, the two “major” parties are stepping up their moves to accelerate adverse constitutional revision. The LDP, with help from its coalition partner Komei Party, is seeking enactment of the rules of the Deliberative Councils on the Constitution so that it can examine drafts of a new constitution. The competition between the LDP and the DPJ for undemocratic policies are seen as the driving force for constitutional revision.

Who triggered this race?

To set the Deliberative Councils on the Constitution in motion means to set the stage for constitutional revision in the Diet. With the National Referendum Law coming into force in May 2010, the LDP wants to lay out a roadmap for a new constitution.

Meantime, the DPJ says it is “opposed” to the establishment of rules of the Deliberative Councils on the Constitution saying that the time is not ripe for doing so. The Democratic Party itself actually promoted making such rules. Hatoyama Yukio, immediately after he became the DPJ president, stated, “It is okay to begin discussion” on constitutional revision in the deliberative councils.

The creation of the Constitution Research Council in 2000 in both houses of the Diet paved the way for discussion on constitutional revision in the Diet. On this, Hatotama in the “Draft New Constitution” (published in 2005) writes, “Triggered by the DPJ’s favorable statements regarding‘constitutional revision’, the Constitution Research Council was established in both houses of the Diet.

In August 2003, then Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro decided to send the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq and ordered to have a draft constitution ready by 2005, the 50th anniversary of the LDP founding.

As if responding to this order, the DPJ in October 2003 clearly stated its intention to work to revise the Constitution. Its “manifesto” stated, “From ‘discussions of the Constitution’ to ‘creation of a constitution’”. Hatotama in the aforementioned essay states, “The term ‘creation’ means more than ‘revision’ because it signifies the need to make a new constitution.”

In October 2005, the LDP and the DPJ compiled “the draft of a new constitution” and “the proposal for a constitution”, respectively. They both recommend deleting the provision that renounces Japan’s war potential from Clause 2 of Article 9.

The DPJ “collaborated” with the LDP in promoting a law on procedures for constitutional revision, under which the Deliberative Councils on the Constitution were established, until right before a vote. A DPJ lawmaker said, “I find it difficult to answer the question why the DPJ opposes the rule-making procedure on the Deliberative Councils on the Constitution.”

Start of a change in interpretation

“If the DPJ comes to power, we will positively spur discussions on constitutional revision,” said Hatoyama on April 25 when he was still the DPJ secretary general.

On October 20 last year at a Lower House special committee meeting on terrorism, an LDP lawmaker asked, “If the DPJ takes power, are you going to change the existing interpretation (that prohibits Japan from exercising the use of force abroad) of the Constitution?” In reply to this, DPJ Policy Research Committee Chair Naoshima Masayuki answered, “Yes, it will be one option,” and went on to say, “If in power, our party will commence such work.”

It was the first time for the DPJ to declare it would “change the present interpretation” and such a statement of intent even shocked other ruling party lawmakers. The remark made by Naoshima comes from the DPJ argument that if U.N. resolutions allow it, the use of force abroad will be acceptable.

All past DPJ leaders have also called for the use of force abroad. Hatoyama in his writing on the “draft of a new constitution” attacks Article 9 Clause 2 as the “most self-deceiving part of the current Constitution,” and expresses his intention to stipulate the need for the “maintenance of a self-defense military”. As for the right to collective self-defense that enables Japan to use force abroad, he said, “This draft of a new constitution recognizes the limited use of the right to collective self-defense.”

“Sohken Kaigi (group to make a constitution)”, consisting of the DPJ Dietmembers who belonged to the former Democratic Socialist Party, also calls for the elimination of Article 9 Clause 2 in its “draft constitution”.

Prevailing across boundaries

A hawkish network promoting constitutional revision is prevailing across the LDP-DPJ boundaries.

Hatoyama, along with ex-Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, is an advisor to a “parliamentary league to enact a new constitution” composed of pro-revision legislators from the LDP, DPJ, Komei, and People’s New Party. As DPJ Vice-President Maehara Seiji and DPJ Vice Secretary-General Nagashima Akihisa hold executive positions in this parliamentary league, the DPJ members are the center of this group.

In addition to Maehara and Nagashima, DPJ House of Councilors member Asao Keiichiro, who will be the defense minister in the “next cabinet”, and DPJ House of Representatives Hosono Goshi keep in touch closely with LDP Nakatani Gen, ex-director general of the former Defense Agency, and Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu in meetings of “the young lawmakers’ group to establish a security regime in the new century.” They cooperated in promoting a permanent law to enable Japan to dispatch the SDF outside Japan and a law to dispatch the SDP for “anti-piracy” missions.

Nagashima on May 5 during the convention of the “parliamentary league to enact a new constitution” spoke in greetings on behalf of Hatoyama, and said, “My party, the DPJ, calls for the realization of constitutional revision as a party virtue.”
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