Shinzo Abe signals on revision of constitution

Tokyo, JapanUpdated: Oct 23, 2017, 08:08 AM IST

He promised a comprehensive package by the end of the year to deal with Japan's demographic challenges, including investments in education, productivity improvements, and pension system reform. Photograph:(Reuters)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, buoyed by a huge election win for lawmakers who favour revising Japan`s post-war, pacifist constitution, signalled a push towards his long-held goal on Monday (October 23) but will need to convince a divided public to succeed.

While addressing a press conference he said: "We must explain it (the revision of the constitution to the public) after achieving a concrete plan in the Commission of the Constitution, as I don`t see the results of this general election as a reflection of public opinion regarding the revision of the constitution."

Parties in favour of amending the US-drafted charter won nearly 80 per cent of the seats in Sunday`s (October 22) lower house election, media counts showed. Four seats remain to be called and final figures are expected later on Monday.

Abe said he wanted to get other parties on board, including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike`s new Conservative Party of Hope and was not insisting on a target of changing the constitution by 2020 that he floated earlier this year.

Any revision of the constitution requires support from two-thirds of the members of each chamber of parliament and a majority in a public referendum, with no minimum quorum.

Amending the charter`s pacifist Article 9 would be hugely symbolic for Japan. Supporters see it as the foundation of post-war democracy but many conservatives view it as a humiliating imposition after Japan`s defeat in 1945.

It would also be a victory for Abe, whose conservative agenda of restoring traditional values, stressing obligations to the state over individual rights and loosening constraints on the military, centres on revising the constitution.