首相の改憲論 あまりの倒錯に驚く

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 6
EDITORIAL: Abe’s perverse argument for rewriting Constitution
(社説)首相の改憲論 あまりの倒錯に驚く

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been aggressively signaling his eagerness to rewrite the Constitution, which potentially includes the revision of its war-renouncing Article 9.

He is apparently hoping to pave the way for realizing his long-cherished dream ahead of the Upper House election to be held in summer. His reasoning, however, is strikingly perverse.

Seventy percent of constitutional scholars have judged that, in light of the interpretation of Article 9, the very presence of the Self-Defense Forces may violate the Constitution, the prime minister told a session of the Lower House Budget Committee. “There is a prevailing belief that this situation must be eliminated.”

He made the remark in reply to a question from his close aide Tomomi Inada, chairwoman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council, who said, “Constitutionalism is being emasculated somewhat by leaving Paragraph 2 of Article 9, which no longer fits reality, intact.”

In an Asahi Shimbun survey of constitutional scholars last year, 63 percent of the respondents said they believed the presence of SDF troops either “violates” or “may violate” the Constitution. But at the same time, 98 percent of the respondents also pointed out that bills for new security legislation, which the Abe administration had submitted to the Diet after reinterpreting the Constitution to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense, either “violate” or “may violate” the Constitution.

Abe’s Cabinet overrode the opposition of a majority of constitutional scholars and of the public by overturning the constitutional interpretation of successive Cabinets, which long held the view that Japan was not allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

The right course for Abe would be to retract the security legislation if he takes issue with the disagreement between the existence of SDF troops and the views of scholars. He should also engage in serious soul-searching if he finds fault with constitutionalism being “emasculated.”

“Believing that even a finger should not be laid on the Constitution amounts to abandoning thought,” Abe told a lawmaker of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, who called Abe’s Diet responses into question, during a separate Diet session. “Instead of doing so, the LDP has presented a draft for amendments,” said the prime minister, who challenged the DPJ to present its own.

Abe simply steamrolled his reinterpretation of the Constitution in circumventing the process of amending it when he had his Cabinet lift the ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense. But he now proudly says his party has “presented a draft for amendments.” How can he be so opportunistic?

The LDP’s draft for an amended Article 9, which explicitly spells out Japan’s self-defense rights, calls for Japan to possess “Defense Forces,” an upgrade from the SDF.

Abe acknowledged, in the meantime, that amending Article 9 has yet to win the support of the public. Asked which part, then, of the Constitution he wants to see amended and exactly how, the prime minister only answered, “Discussions in the Diet and among the public will find a gradual convergence.”

The Constitution is the supreme law to protect the rights of individuals, defend peace and prescribe the status of power and authority. So yes, let the Diet and the public discuss it, including whether it should be amended at all.

But we never embrace an argument for rewriting the Constitution, wherein amendment has become an end in itself instead of what that amendment actually is.

by kiyoshimat | 2016-02-07 08:48 | 英字新聞

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