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Osamu Nishi

【#334】Questioning Seriousness of LDP about Constitutional Amendment

Osamu Nishi / 2015.10.28 (Wed)

October 26, 2015

     The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has replaced House of Representatives lawmaker Hajime Funada with similar lawmaker Eisuke Mori as chairman of the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Constitutional Amendment. This is a natural development because Funada was responsible for confusing parliamentary deliberations about national security legislation. But I personally believe that not only the chairman but also the LDP as a whole including its dysfunctional supporting system should be held responsible.
     If I may present harsh assessment, recent confusion on the national security legislation resulted from the LDP's lack of knowledge, policies or studying. Waseda University professor Yasuo Hasebe, recommended by the ruling party as witness at the House of Representative Commission on the Constitution, should have been well expected to brand the national security legislation as unconstitutional if even some of his daily remarks were known to the LDP. Why did the LDP fail to check the recommendation?

LDP's do-nothing approach induced confusion
     When opposition lawmakers were loudly chanting that the national security legislation would run counter to the Constitution, the opposition camp accounted for 90% of question time at a special House of Representatives committee on the legislation, even though with ruling bloc members capturing 32 of the 45 committee seats. I made testimony as witness at the committee and felt how large the number of ruling bloc lawmakers was. Nevertheless, what I heard at the committee primarily included the opposition camp's assertions that the legislation was "unconstitutional," "war-oriented," "reviving the draft system" and "against constitutionalism." Mobilizing some media and the people, the opposition camp dominated deliberations at the committee. This result emerged from the LDP's do-nothing approach.
     The national security legislation is not unconstitutional or war-oriented at all. It is clearly constitutional and designed to deter war. It would never lead to any draft system. Restrictive provisions would prevent the legislation from deviating from the constitutionalism. LDP lawmakers should have explained these points to voters in their respective constituencies. But few could give such clear explanations, indicating their lack of studying.

What is a priority order for Article 9 amendment?
     The confusion clearly originates from the ambiguity of the Constitution's war-renouncing Article 9. Given the severe international environment surrounding Japan, amending Article 9 should be viewed as a natural step. During an ordinary Diet session to be convened in January next year, the two Diet chambers' commissions on the Constitution should conduct specific deliberation towards amending the Constitution including Article 9.
     Will the replacement of the chairman of the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Constitutional Amendment pave the way for such deliberation? New Chairman Mori is known as a skilled coordinator. The chairman's mission is to set a priority order for amending the Constitution. What would be the priority order? The seriousness of the LDP about constitutional amendment is being questioned.

Osamu Nishi is Director, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor Emeritus, Komazawa University