Japan’s Abe vows to re­form con­sti­tu­tion

Rul­ing coali­tion lacks two-thirds ‘su­per­ma­jor­ity’

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe on Mon­day pledged to keep alive his plans to amend the coun­try’s paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion, de­spite fail­ing to se­cure a “su­per­ma­jor­ity” in up­per house elec­tions.

His rul­ing coali­tion re­tained its ma­jor­ity in the up­per house in Sun­day’s vote for around half of the seats in the cham­ber, but fell short of se­cur­ing a two-thirds ma­jor­ity in fa­vor of re­vis­ing the con­sti­tu­tion.

“The hur­dle of two thirds in both the lower and up­per houses is ex­tremely high,” Abe told a news con­fer­ence at his party head­quar­ters.

“I want to pro­duce a re­form pro­posal that can be agreed upon by two thirds beyond the borders of the rul­ing and op­po­si­tion camps,” he said.

Abe has long har­bored dreams of re­vis­ing the con­sti­tu­tion, which pro­hibits the coun­try from wag­ing war and main­tain­ing a mil­i­tary.

But public sup­port for re­vis­ing the doc­u­ment is low and there is dis­com­fort with the idea even among the rul­ing coali­tion.

Ex­perts said that since many within Abe’s coali­tion were al­ready un­easy about the plans, the fail­ure to se­cure a su­per­ma­jor­ity was un­likely to change the prime min­is­ter’s calculatio­ns sig­nif­i­cantly.

“Los­ing the su­per­ma­jor­ity is not nec­es­sar­ily a ma­jor set­back for Abe,” wrote an­a­lyst To­bias Har­ris of the Te­neo con­sul­tancy group in a note.

“In­stead, by lead­ing the rul­ing coali­tion to another na­tional elec­tion vic­tory – his sixth in his nearly seven years as LDP [Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party] leader – Abe has ce­mented his sta­tus atop Japan’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem,” Har­ris added.

Abe’s LDP and its coali­tion part­ner Komeito took 71 of the 124 seats up for grabs in Sun­day’s vote, ac­count­ing for about half of the up­per cham­ber.

The two par­ties al­ready con­trol 70 seats in the other half of the 245-seat cham­ber that was not be­ing con­tested.

An­a­lysts said Abe’s coali­tion ben­e­fit­ted from a weak op­po­si­tion, and voter turnout un­der­scored ap­a­thy among the elec­torate, falling below 50 per­cent for the first time since a 1995 up­per house elec­tion.

Abe’s win is likely how­ever to shore up his sup­port ahead of a con­tro­ver­sial hike of the con­sump­tion tax to 10 per­cent later this year, as well as trade ne­go­ti­a­tions with Wash­ing­ton.

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