Abe's proposal to revise war-renouncing Article 9 should be squarely debated: The Japan News

apan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his party's lawmakers raise their fists as they pledge to win in the upcoming lower house election in Tokyo.
apan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his party's lawmakers raise their fists as they pledge to win in the upcoming lower house election in Tokyo.PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial on October 4, the paper calls for more efforts to debate the constitutional amendment proposed by the ruling party as part of its election pledges.

TOKYO (THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has unveiled its campaign promises for the House of Representatives election.

A main feature of the pledges is that the LDP has gone so far as to state that the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) should be clearly written into the Constitution, so the discrepancy between Article 9 and reality can be eliminated.

The article stipulates the renunciation of war and that no forces will be maintained, all while at the same time, the nation possesses the SDF.

The LDP's campaign promises cite four items, which also include making education free of charge, enriching and strengthening education systems; responding to states of emergency; and eliminating integrated constituencies from House of Councillors elections.

With these items included, the election pledges declare that the party will seek to "revise the Constitution for the first time" with the broad understanding of the public.

In the previous lower house election, the LDP did not refer to specific items for constitutional revision. Clearly writing the four items into the campaign promises seems to reflect Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strong desire to seek constitutional amendment.

Abe deserves praise for his eagerness to promote debate about these issues in the lower house election and then ask for the confidence of the public.

The prime minister has advanced a proposal to add a provision defining the legal grounds for the SDF while maintaining the first and second paragraphs in Article 9, and he is seeking to make a new constitution effective in 2020.

However, a specifically worded provision and a timetable for amendment were not included in the campaign pledges.

This can be viewed as an attempt to carefully form a consensus.

The LDP should promote full-fledged discussions with other parties regarding specific proposals about the matter.

In reference to economic policies, the election pledges cite the goal of "achieving an economic recovery and ending deflation by expediting Abenomics."

The main pillars of that endeavour are "a productivity revolution" through artificial intelligence and other technological innovation, and "a revolution in human resources development" aimed at addressing the low birthrate and aging population.

The Abenomics economic policy has achieved certain results through monetary relaxation and a fiscal-stimulus injection.

However, there has been little increase in Japan's potential growth rate, as the government's growth strategy is not strong enough. It is necessary to show a concrete road map regarding what should be achieved under the slogan of "revolution."

In conducting the revolution in human resources development, the campaign promises call for changing the allocation target for the revenue increase to be accrued from a planned hike in the consumption tax rate, and then setting the increase aside for such purposes as making early childhood education and day nurseries free of charge.

Progress would also be made in making higher education free, with low-income groups to be targeted.

Expanding free education to universities will require a massive amount of financial resources, and there are concerns that the scheme would merely end up as a pork barrel project.

It is indispensable to set a new fiscal reconstruction target to maintain fiscal discipline.

The idea of changing the purpose for the use of the revenue increase and allocating the increase to free education and child-rearing support had been advocated by the opposition Democratic Party prior to its recent split.

Kibo no To (Party of Hope) is insisting on freezing the consumption tax hike. The LDP should even more carefully explain the need to improve the quality of social security services and restoring fiscal health through the consumption tax increase.

The campaign promises regard the North Korean problem as a "national crisis" - along with the low birthrate and graying population - stating that Japan should spearhead international efforts to exert greater pressure on North Korea. It is important to calmly debate diplomatic problems, although they are not a typical campaign issue.

The Japan News is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.