Reforming Japan’s Constitution

“Reform with no sacred cows” was Junichiro Koizumi’s slogan when he became prime minister five years ago, and no cow here is more sacred than our “peace” constitution. So it should be no surprise that, as Koizumi moves toward the end of his second and final term in office, his efforts to reform the constitution to allow Japan more effectively to defend world peace are gathering pace.

In mid-April, the Constitution Review committee of Japan’s House of Representatives issued a final report on the fundamental problems facing Japan’s Constitution and submitted it to the Chair of House of the Diet. Soon the House of Councillors will submit its final report. Moreover, concrete discussions on constitutional reform are underway within both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (with Koizumi himself in charge) and the opposition Democratic Party.

The private sector and media outlets like the influential Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper have also joined in. The Liberal Democrats aim to have their draft constitutional amendments ready for the 50th anniversary of the party’s founding this November.

Although almost everyone concedes that some amendments to the constitution are necessary, agreement on what needs to be done has been difficult to reach. Indeed, the Liberal Democrats are as divided as everyone else.