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New Komeito cautious about revising Article 96


The New Komeito party will express caution about revising Article 96 of the Constitution to ease the criteria for constitutional amendments in its electoral pledges for the upper house election this summer, in stark contrast with its ruling coalition partner the Liberal Democratic Party, Komeito party sources said Sunday.

While Article 96 states that any initiative to amend the Constitution must be supported by at least two-thirds of the members of each house of the Diet, the LDP is seeking to ease the requirement to a majority vote.

New Komeito, however, will say in its election pledges that the strict criteria must be maintained so that constitutional revision does not become a political issue whenever a change of governing party occurs.

While stressing the need to maintain the three principles of the Constitution -- respect for basic human rights, sovereignty of the people and pacifism, New Komeito will propose adding new principles such as environmental rights.

On Article 9, the party will argue that while the present two clauses denouncing war and barring maintenance of a military should be retained, thorough discussions are required regarding the status of the Self-Defense Forces and how Japan should make international contributions.

The party will also pledge not to enable the state to exercise the right to collective self-defense, currently banned under the government's interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution.

The party's stance on the Constitution, along with other controversial issues such as Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, will be finalized by the end of this month.