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Japan Seeks to Amend Pacifist Constitution

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5325478,00.html Japan Seeks to Amend Pacifist Constitution Thursday October 6, 2005 2:01 PM By HIROKO
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2005
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      http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5325478,00.html

      Japan Seeks to Amend Pacifist Constitution

      Thursday October 6, 2005 2:01 PM

      By HIROKO TABUCHI

      Associated Press Writer

      TOKYO (AP) - Japanese lawmakers on Thursday debated
      how to amend Japan's pacifist constitution, a
      troubling prospect for Asian neighbors wary of a
      revival of Japanese militarism in the region.

      Discussions at a special committee on constitutional
      reform focused on legal procedures to revise Japan's
      top law, which has not been amended since it was
      drafted by U.S. occupation forces in 1947.

      The debate comes after both Japan's ruling coalition
      and top opposition party expressed their support for
      amending Article 9 of the constitution, which bars the
      use of military force in settling international
      disputes. That would stoke fears of a resurgence of
      Japanese militarism among Tokyo's neighbors.

      The clause also prohibits maintaining a military for
      warfare, though Japan possesses a self-defense force,
      a contradiction that lawmakers have said must be
      addressed by changing the clause to more clearly
      acknowledge Japan's rights to self-defense.

      Toru Nakayama, a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal
      Democratic Party and chairman of the special
      committee, said that while laying out procedures would
      not immediately lead to making changes to the
      constitution, discussion was needed to move forward.

      Amendments to the constitution must be endorsed by a
      two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, as
      well as by a majority of the population in a national
      referendum. But the government has yet to enact
      legislation outlining procedures for such a
      referendum.

      The minority of committee members opposed to reform
      said any moves to change the constitution would be
      detrimental to Japan's foreign relations.

      ``The international community's trust in Japan would
      be destroyed'' if Japan pushed ahead with
      constitutional reform, Akira Kasai of the Japan
      Communist Party said.

      The debate follows a poll published Wednesday that
      said 62 percent of Japanese oppose changing the
      anti-war clause, saying it has contributed to keeping
      the peace in postwar Japan, according to the Japanese
      daily Mainichi Shimbun.

      Eighty percent of the respondents said that Article 9
      contributed to maintaining Japan's peace after World
      War II.

      The daily conducted face-to-face interviews with 2,418
      voters nationwide from Sept. 2 through 4. No margin of
      error was provided.
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