A campaign to collect 30 million signatures for defending the Constitution
has been launched since September, 2017. The first mass rally was held
in the said month so that lawmakers would not put the agendum to alter
Article Nine of the Constitution on the Diet’s debate under the Abe government.
The signature collection has been staged in the country under the unified
guidance. The date May 3, the Day of Constitution, is set as a day of counting
signatures at a middle stage of the campaign. The New Socialist Party (NSP)
has committed in the movement both independently and jointly with other
opposition parties and civic groups.
LET’S PREVENT PROPOSAL FOR DIET DEBATE ON CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT
Let’s Stop Diet Debates!
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is scheduled to propose amendment
of the constitution during the ordinary session of the Diet and, then,
to put the issue on the referendum. The signature campaign is waged in
order to stop developments motivated by lawmakers. The campaign is called
‘Nationwide 30 Million Signature Collection against Amendment of Article
Nine’ and is organized by a civic organization, National Civic Action ?
Article Nine Amendment by Abe, No!
The civic organization was established to win 30 million signatures of citizens before coming May, with an initiative of 19 people, including a writer, Setouchi Jakucho. The Associations of Article Nine joined the campaign for the first time. The civic body is composed of a variety of people, attracting those in the religious circles as well as citizens regarded to be conservative.
Timetable of LDP
The LDP’s Constitution Amendment Headquarters proposed two ways of revision
in December 2017 when the party summed up their internal debates: one is
to maintain the Items 1 and 2 of the Article Nine and to add a third Item
to specify the Self Defense Forces (SDF), and the other is a draft to delete
Item 2. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announced the former option last May,
while Mr. Ishiba Shigeru, former Secretary General of the LDP, and his
followers support the latter in the context of the party’s draft text compiled
Premier Abe said: ‘no change will happen in terms of authority as well
as missions of SDF’ (at the plenary session of the House of Representatives,
November 21, 2017). If the SDF is additionally stipulated in the text of
constitution, however, that will disagree with the constitutional principle
of ‘prohibition to possess war potential’, thus the Item 2 will be totally
undermined. That means, free from the binding force, the armed troops will
be deployed abroad to fulfill missions without any limit.
The government has major plans in 2019: municipality elections across the country and abdication of the incumbent emperor in April, inauguration of a new emperor in May and elections for the House of Councilors in July. Important events are listed. Therefore, reportedly, the government is to hold a referendum before these events. That is: to propose revision of the constitution during the current Diet session which lasts until June 20 or during the coming extraordinary session beginning in September, at the latest, and hold a referendum before March, 2019.
The Constitution Panel of the House of Representatives is composed of
50 lawmakers, out of which 30 are from the LDP, eight are from the opposition
parties and 12 from other parties. The same panel in the House of Councilors
is made of 45 members, out of which 24 are from the LDP. That means the
ruling LDP has the majority in both of the panels and the party is able
to win in voting for a constitution amendment proposal.
The ruling coalition of LDP and the Komeito, together with other sympathetic
parties, sufficiently occupy over two-thirds of the seats in both of the
Houses, so the proposed bill will easily pass the Diet.
Let’s Struggle to Stop Proposal!
The signature campaign began in September last year nation-widely. The NSP is engaged in the campaign independently and jointly with other opposition political parties and civic groups. But delays are seen.
The figure 30 million is a big number. Time is up. This year is regarded
as a decisive year of the constitution. The NSP is the most defiant supporter
of the constitution. Under today’s political circumstances in which lawmakers
should debate on rewriting the constitution, the NSP’s commitment in the
campaign has a crucial significance.
February 13, 2018