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    Constitutional reform report released by lower house committee

    The lower house of the Diet’s exploratory committee on constitutional revision has come to a resolution:

    On the morning of 15 April, the committee (Taro Nakayama, Chair), made up of members from the LDP, DPJ, and Komeito, approved by majority vote a finalized report summarizing 5 years of debate. They clarified in detail the necessity of revising the preamble and Article 9, in which Japan renounces war powers. This is the first time the Diet has demonstrated intent to revise the constitution since 1947, when the present constitution went into effect. Also manifested [in the proposal] are the intention to make reforms on a broad range of other issues, such as stipulating environmental rights and redistricting prefectures into larger administrative regions.

    Bear in mind that this is the lower house committee, so there’s no guarantee that the bill won’t be nearly unrecognizable by the time it’s voted on in the houses. The upper house committee, for its part, is expected to come to a resolution on 20 April.

    Added on 16 April: The Nikkei evening edition had a chart I didn’t feel like translating before going out last night, but there’s an English article in the Mainichi that lists things pretty well. The part that’s relevant to the SDF is here:

    The principle of renouncing war as a means to settle international disputes, which is provided for in Clause 1, Article 9, should be retained, according to a majority opinion. The report says a majority of members “appreciate the role that Article 9 has played in ensuring Japan’s peace and prosperity.”

    However, it does not rule out the possibility that the article will be amended to clearly provide for minimum use of force to defend Japan from possible military attacks.

    The report shows that the commission was divided over whether Japan should be allowed to participate in collective self-defense arrangements.

    Some demand that Japan be allowed to participate in collective defense arrangements without limitations, while other panel members said some limitations should be placed on Japan’s involvement in such arrangements. Another group said the Constitution should ban Japan’s involvement in it.

    Japan’s codified renunciation of war is one of the biggest sticking points in its bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

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