Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keen to make inroads into Africa to offset China's growing influence. Photo: The AFP/Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will instruct Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to present draft revisions to the country’s post-war pacifist constitution to parliament this year.

“The Constitution represents the way this nation should be and its ideal state,” the Asahi Shimbun quoted Abe as saying at his first news conference of 2018 after visiting Ise Jingu shrine here. “It is time to fully present to the public a Constitution that serves as a hope for new times and to deepen public debate toward constitutional revision.”

Abe reportedly stressed that “popular sovereignty, protection of basic human rights and pacifism will remain the basic principles” in the draft of the revised constitution. But Asahi said the prime minister stressed that it’s only natural to hold talks on how Japan should be in response to the changing times.

Japan’s pacifist constitution went into force in 1947 and has never been amended. Changes to the document must be approved by two-thirds of members of both houses of parliament and a majority in a national referendum.

If changes are proposed, attention will focus on Article 9 of the constitution which currently forever renounces war as “a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”

Abe didn’t indicate when he would file a motion for a vote in parliament or when he wanted to hold a national referendum.

“I would like to leave all related matters to the LDP,” he said.

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