Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Akira Momochi

【#277】LDP Should Remember Goal Pursued since Founding

Akira Momochi / 2014.12.18 (Thu)

December 15, 2014

     The result of the December 14 general election became clear. On December 4, shortly after the official announcement of the campaign season for the House of Representatives election, major newspapers had forecast the number of LDP seats at more than 300, and some had even predicted more than the two-thirds majority or 317 seats for the party. Eventually, the LDP won almost the same number of seats as in the previous election, falling short of obtaining the two-thirds majority required for proposing a constitutional amendment for a national referendum. As the Next Generation Party which calls for amending the constitution failed to fare well, the LDP will have to depend on its coalition partner Komeito for proposing any constitutional amendment.

LDP should develop strategy for amending constitution
     Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared amending the constitution as “my historical mission.” His first cabinet (2006-2007) enacted a law for a national referendum to amend the constitution, enactment of which had been neglected for 60 years since the promulgation of the constitution. His second cabinet (2012-2014) revised the national referendum law to lower the minimum voting age to 18 in four years.
     So the coming third Abe cabinet will surely seek to realize the constitutional amendment itself. "Amending the constitution is my long-cherished wish," Abe told a press conference after the general election. Thanks to the LDP's landslide victory in the lower house election, Abe will surely be reelected as the party's leader next year and was given sufficient time for amending the constitution. Abe now must develop a careful strategy and schedule for rewriting the constitution. He must also carefully deal with Komeito in this respect.
     Abe may have various difficulties to overcome for amending the constitution. He will have to gain high popularity among voters in order to overcome these difficulties. To this end, he must successfully implement his Abenomics policies to revitalize the Japanese economy to invigorate citizens. Now that Abe secured the LDP's seats as many as before and the LDP-Komeito coalition kept control of the two-thirds majority for proposing constitutional amendment in the lower house, he should more aggressively appeal to the public for the need to amend the constitution.

Raise LDP lawmakers' consciousness
     At the same time, Abe will have to reform LDP lawmakers' consciousness about rewriting the constitution. How many among LDP winners in the latest election are prepared to amend the constitution as seriously as Prime Minister Abe or members of one-time parliamentary group called “Diet Members for Considering Japan’s Future and History Education?”
     Newcomer lawmakers’ views are unknown. I doubt if many LDP lawmakers before the dissolution of the House of Representatives for the latest election were positively considering amending the constitution. Not a few LDP lawmakers apparently did not know about the LDP’s goals given upon its founding.
     While the LDP began to sponsor town meetings throughout Japan to promote constitutional amendment, it was difficult to find keynote speakers for such meetings. A few including Hajime Funada, chairman of the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Constitutional Amendment, had to travel around the country as speakers. When I participated in such meetings in Hiroshima and Kochi, I regrettably saw not so many participants and felt no zeal for amending the constitution.
     The LDP’s political platform given upon its founding specified “voluntary amendment of the current constitution” as one of its goals. Thus amending the constitution has been the party’s long-cherished goal since its founding. The LDP is urgently required to spread the long-cherished goal among its lawmakers and raise their consciousness about rewriting the constitution.

Akira Momochi is Director, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Nihon University