The Daily Manila Shimbun


Abe gives up on autumn constitution proposal to Parliament

August 6, 2017

TOKYO- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has given up on an attempt to put forward his ruling party's proposal for constitutional amendments to parliament in autumn this year.

He was forced to first focus on shoring up public approval ratings that have plummeted due to a series of political scandals including allegations of favoritism toward a school operator headed by a friend of his.

In May, Abe proposed putting an amended constitution into force in 2020. Specifically, he called for revising war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution to give a rationale for the existence of the Self-Defense Forces.

Abe has since been considering a scenario where parliament will put proposed revisions to the constitution to a national referendum as soon as early next year.

At his press conference on Thursday, however, Abe said there should be no predetermined time frame for his goal of amending the constitution, apparently thinking that any attempt to rush the process would trigger public criticism.

"I'll leave everything to the party from now on," Abe said on television on Saturday, indicating his desire to promote careful discussions on constitutional amendments within the Liberal Democratic Party. "I don't expect discussions to be moved forward on a preset schedule."

Abe also stressed the need to step up efforts to win support from as many lawmakers as possible, including opposition members, for amending the constitution.

"It's now impossible to submit our amendment proposal to an extraordinary parliamentary session" expected to be held in autumn, said a senior official of the LDP's Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution.

"It'll be a total loss if the Abe administration collapses," another LDP official said. "To accomplish the goal of constitutional amendments, it's better to back away for now."

There is also concern that any attempt to rush a decision may create a rift within the party. Jiji Press