The National Referendum Act which specifies procedures to amend the Constitution was approved by the Diet in May, 2007, but it has deficiencies and cannot be regarded as a law. The government, led by Premier Abe Shinzo in his second round administration and intended to elaborate the controversial law, presented a bill on April 8 to the Diet to amend it in cooperation with other six parties. The New Socialist Party (NSP) appeals again in the more intensified way the plebiscite act must be abrogated.
LAW TO AMEND CONSTITUION IS NOT NECESSARY!
Three outstanding agenda were stipulated in the Appendix of the law when the Diet adopted the Referendum Act in 2007, and it was implemented three years later. Conclusions for the three issues had been demanded to present during that period, but they have been left intact up to today.
Seven years have passed. Legislators who want to rewrite the constitution fill the parliament today. Seven political parties, including the ruling parties, have reached lately an agreement on the pending points for revision. Thus, they have submitted a bill so that the revised law may pass the current session. They are hasty to elaborate the referendum act, taking advantage of the bill as a breakthrough.
Why the Act is Faulty?
The proposed ‘revisions’ in the bill are: (1) to reduce the suffrage age to 18 years old in four years after implementation of the revised act, (2) to allow public workers to join campaigns on the Constitution for a referendum, and (3) to take necessary, legal procedures immediately after implementation of the law so as to regulate organized campaign efforts of public workers.
The Special Committee for Investigation of Constitution of the House of Councilors adopted Appendix composed of 18 articles three days prior to the Diet’s violent approval of the Referendum Act in May, 2007. The committee pointed out incomplete aspects of the law in the Appendix and demanded corrections.
The Appendix does not have legal binding force, but in turn, it proves that the Act is unqualified as a law.
A Favorable Law to Lawmakers Who Want to Amend Constitution
The Referendum Act is not necessary, because it exists to change the Peace Constitution for worse.
An overwhelming number of legislators who want to amend the constitution control the Diet at the moment. The same is true in the investigation committees of Constitution in the both Houses. Political forces advocating amendment dominate the situation. Under these circumstances the referendum act could be arranged freely and drafts for a new constitution could be compiled.
The plebiscite law is a convenient tool to politicians who want to rewrite the Constitution. For instance, a national referendum should be held within 60 and 180 days after the Diet approves a draft for amendment. A time limit is very short from the Diet’s decision to the voting day. People cannot afford to know about the plebiscite. They have little time for judgment.
The Act allows to stage campaigns until two weeks before the voting date. That means those who have money and power can freely advertise in support of amendment. It has no stipulation on the minimum voting rate. It specifies that an outcome relies on a majority of the total votes.
A certain voting method could manipulate a conclusion; several points are raised consecutively for voters to answer, but if they are batched into one, a convenient outcome could be gained. Thus it will be easy for the government to exclude Article Nine of the Constitution.
Constitution must be Alive in Everyday Life!
What is necessary is to rightly implement constitutional principles in the everyday life. The NSP opposed the Act, and has been waging abrogation campaigns in cooperation with other political parties and civic groups in the joint efforts.
The Abe government enacted another law last December, the Law to Protect Specified Secrets, with force. It arranges the national security strategy and insists on approval of the right of collective defense, which violates the Constitution, in order to forge this country to be a nation which could wage a war. The government wants to ease restrictions provided in Article 96 of the Constitution, which stipulates procedures for amendment. The government, infringing the Constitution, presumes to worsen it. Under these pretexts it wants to revise the National Referendum Act. The policy will lead people to a gate of the hell.
The NSP adamantly rejects the government’s attempt.
April 15, 2014