Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Akira Momochi

【#306】Funada Should Resign from LDP Post

Akira Momochi / 2015.06.09 (Tue)

June 8, 2015

     Surprisingly, a witness recommended by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party described Japan's exercise of rights to collective self-defense and the pending national security bills as unconstitutional at a meeting of the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution on June 4, triggering a big controversy at the Diet and among media.

Expected witness remark
     On the controversial remark by Waseda University Professor Yasuo Hasebe, House of Representatives lawmaker Hajime Funada responsible for giving green light for selecting Hasebe as the LDP witness reportedly explained that the remark went beyond his expectations and that opposition parties successfully took advantage of Hasebe's opinion for endorsing their objection to the bills. Such exculpatory statement should not have come from the chairman of the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution. How poor his explanation was!
     Though having endorsed a bill for protecting specially designated secrets in 2013, Hasebe is one of the founders of the Article 96 Association opposing a plan to ease a requirement in Article 96 of the Constitution for the Diet's initiation of amendments to the Constitution and has repeatedly criticized the LDP and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration on the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. He is a constitutional scholar who clearly belongs to a group opposing any amendment to the current Constitution. Had Funada been unaware of this fact?
     Funada also explained the national security bills were unexpectedly raised at the latter half of the meeting. But this cannot be an excuse for what happened. I myself have served several times as a witness at meetings of the Lower and Upper House Commissions on the Constitution. Usually, questions can arise at such meetings on topics other than their preset themes.
     At the June 4 meeting, opposition camp lawmakers took the opportunity to raise the national security bills and obtain Hasebe's remark terming the bills unconstitutional. Such development should have fallen within expectations. Had Funada lacked even such expectations?

Constitutional revision head continuing to retreat
     Funada made a problematic remark in February as well. "I and the prime minister share a view that constitutional amendments would be initiated (by the Diet) after next year's House of Councillors election," he said after a meeting with Prime Minister Abe. As pointed out in my article titled "Government Should Hasten Constitutional Amendments without Delaying Them Easily" (“Seiron” opinion column, the Sankei Shimbun, March 13), the prime minister told the Diet that he had never specified any such timing. The Funada remark has made its way while failing to be confirmed.
     Last autumn, Funada said, "I would like to implement the first initiation of constitutional amendments by the next House of Councillors election." In his February remark, he specified the timing as "after the House of Councillors election." He recently said the first initiation could come "within two years." He thus continued to delay the schedule. As a consumption tax increase that would be unpopular among the people is set to come in two years, the government may be unable to cnduct national referendum on constitutional amendments simultaneously with the tax hike. Can Funada serve as the head of the LDP constitutional amendment promotion arm while not realizing such an easy thing?
     The biggest problem is that Funada may view constitutional amendments as a sports event. Constitutional amendments represent a battle to restructure Japan's postwar regime. They cannot be repeated easily like any sports event. There will be no consolation match for constitutional amendments. Funada's reported motto is that it is important to retreat as well as push ahead. This is understandable. But Funada has always been pushed back. Does he know that the essence of election or popular vote is to replace bullets with ballots?
     Anyone cannot achieve Japan's largest postwar national undertaking without being prepared to fight a battle. Funada may have no choice but to resign as chairman of the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution.

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