Photo: Reuters/Toru Hanai
Photo: Reuters/Toru Hanai

The Mainichi Shimbun reports that a body of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will try to draft a proposed revision of Article 9 of Japan’s pacifist constitution as early as this month.

The effort is in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire to define legally the existence of the country’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) as part of the document.

Article 9 of the constitution, drafted soon after World War II under the US occupation, currently contains two paragraphs. The first renounces “war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.” The second declares that Japan will never maintain “war potential,” referring to land, sea and air forces.

The LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, chaired by House of Representatives lawmaker Hiroyuki Hosoda, is generally said to be moving in the direction of adding a third paragraph that specifies the existence of the SDF.

But some LDP members, including former party secretary general Shigeru Ishiba, are said to favor nixing the second “war potential” paragraph altogether.

Ruling-party members, on the other hand, are still dickering over the exact wording and thrust of proposed changes to the second paragraph. One thorny issue is whether a rewording should specify that Japan would have a “national defense military with the prime minister as its commander-in-chief.”

A final revision proposal is expected to be ready before the LDP convention on March 25.

If a proposal to amend Article 9 is agreed on, Abe plans to have the amendment voted on in a national referendum. But no date for a vote has been set.