Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared in a meeting in the City of Kobe on June 24 that he would like to present a constitution amendment draft of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the Constitution Investigation Panels of both of the Houses before the end of the coming extraordinary session of the Diet. He suggested a plan to submit the bill to the Diet to hold subsequent national referendum as early as in 2018 and implement the new constitution in 2020. His aggressive stance should be analyzed rightly.
BUILD UP JOINT FRONT TO DISTURB LDP’S AGGRESSIVE DESIGNS
The idea of Prime Minister Abe is shown in his proposal: Article Nine’s first and second items remain the same to incorporate explicitly the existence of the Self Defense Forces (SDF) under the third item ? an illogical, contradictory plan.
The LDP began its discussions on June 22 by the initiative of their Headquarters for Promotion of Constitution Amendment. Reportedly, objections were raised. One of the parliamentary members from the SDF told that a clear description of the SDF should be necessary so that military personnel might achieve missions with confidence and pride. On the other hand, however, many raised doubts, worrying about ‘an emotional suggestion’ of the prime minister. The head of the LDP’S promotion panel, Yasuoka Okiharu, released a summary of the meeting to tell that it would be the best if a bill could be submitted to the Diet by the end of the 2018 ordinary session. The declaration of Premier Abe in Kobe neglected the prospect of his party.
Premier Abe Goes on, Aware of Irrational Ways
Some inside the LDP disagree to the time frame of 2020. If Premier Abe is successful in compiling the LDP’S draft, the agenda may be presented to the Constitution Investigation Panel during the coming extraordinary session of the Diet in harmony with other political parties for a parliamentary adoption (probably the Komei-to and the Ishin will agree).
It is not clear now when the premier will decide on dissolution of the Diet to hold general elections, but he plans to submit the bill for Diet debates by 2018 summer. A scenario lies: general elections may be held in 2018 autumn, or possibly, a national referendum may come simultaneously with the election of the House of Councilors in July, 2019, so that the new constitution might be implemented in 2020.
The plan, however, seems to be infeasible. Firstly, prestige of the Constitution is damaged as the logic is contradictory. The Item 2 of Article Nine says ‘land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained’. The LDP has forcibly put its interpretation to authorize the SDF, saying that necessary, minimum self-defense potential is constitutional, and then, it required another interpretation that the collective self-defense right is constitutional as it is necessity minimum. The Abe government lacks intellect. It does not care about logical consequences. Nevertheless, it is determined to do everything to reach its political goal.
Secondly, the Abe government does not have enough command to achieve objectives. Repellence inside the regime against power of the Abe family is increasing as is seen in the scandal over the new college, Kake Gakuen. Rumors on dissolution of the Diet have faded away, it is partly because Premier is not confident that he could regain the 2/3 majority. Nevertheless, Premier maintains tenacious: if a grouping of the LDP, the Komei-to and the Ishin is not enough, he is to incorporate the new party led by Ms Koike Yuriko and split the Democratic Party.
Taking Advantage of Regional Crisis
A factor behind his speedy, straight-forward amendment plan attributes to the crisis in the Korean Peninsula.
The government broadcast a 30-second program on TV, ‘evacuation from a missile attack of North Korea’, for two weeks from June 23. It put advertisement in the major nationwide and local newspapers, too. It uses a shrewd trick in psychological control of people.
President Moon Jae-in of Republic of Korea pursues dialogue earnestly with his counterpart of the north of the peninsula. Meanwhile, Premier Abe takes the maximum advantage of the crisis to complete his overweening ambition.
We must not despise the Abe government that is well aware of its dim rehabilitation potential in case of its defeat in the referendum. It is geared up to break through any difficulties.
We must build up a joint front with all opposition parties in order to crush the premier’s designs. Let’s organize an Olive Tree election coalition in the coming general elections and the 2019 Upper House election, integrating struggles for the Constitution. Let’s narrow down opposition candidates to one in the constituencies. Let’s work together with the Liberal Party and the Social-Democratic Party in the proportional representation fields of both of the Houses.
July 4, 2017