LDP open to modifying constitutional revision plan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Sunday the LDP is open to modifying its constitutional revision plan, which strongly reflects the party's conservative agenda.

"If there are suggestions for changing the LDP's draft (on constitutional revision), we will naturally take them into consideration as politicians need to face reality," Abe said on an NHK program.

The LDP proposed renaming the Self-Defense Forces to national defense forces, calling the emperor Japan's head of state and relaxing rules for initiating constitutional amendments in its draft unveiled in April last year. The Constitution currently states that the emperor is the symbol of the state and the unity of the people.

The party has incorporated its proposals for revising the supreme law in its campaign pledges for the July 21 House of Councillors election.

Abe said on the NHK program that "profound discussions should take place widely to gain people's understanding" regarding amendments to the Constitution. The LDP plans to enact legislation to stipulate that people aged 18 or older can take part in a referendum on constitutional revision.

On the same program, Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief of the LDP's coalition partner the New Komeito party, said it "does not plan to change the current Constitution simply because some people say it is bad."

Yamaguchi said the party calls for adding new concepts to the supreme law, such as adding the right to environmental protection.

Banri Kaieda, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said he is "staunchly opposed" to the LDP's constitutional revision plan, saying it "could lead to military conscription." At present, Japan does not have a draft system.

Kazuo Shii, chief of the opposition Japanese Communist Party, said the LDP's draft is "very dangerous" as it would enable Japanese troops to "go to battlefields and fight there." Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution bans the use of force as a means to settle international disputes.

Meanwhile, Toru Hashimoto, co-head of the opposition Japan Restoration Party, said his party can work together with the LDP in trying to change the Constitution, adding revision of the supreme law is "essential to reform the governing system" of the nation.

Tadashi Hirono, deputy leader of the People's Life Party, and Kuniko Tanioka, head of the Green Wind party, said they are opposed to revising Article 96 of the Constitution, which stipulates the rules for initiating constitutional change, to lower the legislative hurdle for amendments to other parts of the supreme law.