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Posted by on Feb 21, 2013 in International, Law, Media, Places, Politics, War | 3 comments

Imposed 66 Years Ago, the Time Has Come to Revise Our ‘Pacific Constitution’ (Iwate Nippo Shimbun, Japan)

Should Japan be allowed to have a national military again? Confronted with territorial claims by a more assertive China and a nuclear-armed North Korea, Japan’s new prime minister Shinzo Abe has made amending the Constitution to make possible a national military one of his central goals. The document, imposed by the United States after World War II, is almost impossible to change, and forbids Japan from making war as national policy. With popular support for the plan uncertain, this editorial from Japan’s Iwate Nippo Shimbun outlines the Abe Administration’s plan to revise the constitutional amendment process to make it easier to accomplish.

The Iwate Nippo Shimbun editorial starts off this way:

With China’s continuing attempts to expand its maritime jurisdiction on one side, and a nuclear-armed North Korea on the other, peace and stability in the Far East is at stake. Amid imminent danger and existing threats, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – who seeks a comprehensive revision of the Constitution – won a historic landslide victory in the general election and has been returned to power. The idea of revising the Constitution appears increasingly realistic.

Abe has laid down guidelines for the current debate on amending the Constitution, saying that above all, the focus should be on revising Article 96, which outlines the requirements for initiating constitutional amendments. In a Diet session at the end of January, Abe clearly stated, “The first thing we have to do is work on revising Article 96, which is something many parties and factions feel is necessary.”

The central focus for amending the Constitution is Article 9, which renounces the waging of war “as a sovereign right of the nation.” But because he believes that revising the procedure for amending the Constitution will win wider approval than dealing with any specific issue, Abe emphasized that before dealing with Article 9, his administration would move to weaken the provisions of Article 96.

[Editor’s Note: Article 96 says that amendments require the approval of two-thirds of the members of both houses of the National Diet, before they can be presented to the people in a referendum].

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