Abe suggests two-track system for amending Constitution

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has suggested the possibility of creating a two-track system for amending the Japanese Constitution, with current procedures maintained for revising the war-renouncing Article 9 and other articles covering basic human rights.

But the procedure for revising other aspects of the Constitution would be made less onerous, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

Abe is quoted as sketching out that option in an interview to be published Monday in the monthly magazine Voice.

Abe aims to change Article 96 of the pacifist Constitution to ease the process to amend the supreme law.

Article 96 states that any initiative to amend the Constitution must be supported by at least two-thirds of members of each house of parliament. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party headed by Abe seeks to alleviate the requirement to a majority vote.

The premier said in the magazine article that some LDP members have proposed maintaining the requirement of two-thirds votes to revise some articles, according to the sources.

But other articles, such as those covering Japan's governing structure including the Diet, could be revised with the backing of a simple majority, Abe reportedly suggested.

Abe said he sticks to his proposal to amend Article 96 even though it has not gained much public support. "I'm not at all planning to abandon" the idea, Abe is quoted as saying.

The premier also said the LDP cannot realize amending Article 96 on its own, and will seek support from the opposition Japan Restoration Party and Your Party.

The LDP's coalition partner, New Komeito, remains cautious about revising Article 96, but Abe said the partnership between the LDP and the New Komeito "should not be severed."