from Asia Unbound and Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

Hajime Funada: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

July 15, 2016

Blog Post

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution.

This is the second of four essays by Japanese political leaders on constitutional revision. Hajime Funada is also a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who advocates for revision. Since 1979 Funada has served eleven terms in the Lower House, representing the first district constituency of Tochigi prefecture. He served as chair of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution (2014-2015), and played an important role in the Lower House Commission on the Constitution during the deliberations of the Abe cabinet’s new security laws.

On Constitutional Revision by Hajime Funada

More on:

Japan

Last year, Japan faced a significant moment in its history—the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II. This year Japan’s constitution is in its sixty-ninth year, making it one of the oldest constitutions in the world. A notable characteristic of this constitution is that it has never been revised.

Japan’s constitution came into being after the Imperial Parliament discussed and approved the draft proposal submitted by the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP). For some time, the perception that the Occupation forced our constitution upon us was pervasive, and therefore many believe it needed to be redrafted by the Japanese themselves. Recently, however, more and more Japanese think that revision is necessary because of the changing international environment surrounding Japan as well as because of changes that have occurred within Japanese society.

It is not because the current constitution is so well written that we have avoided revision. Rather, we have allowed a very lenient and flexible interpretation of the current constitution over the years. This is easily seen in the fact that we have one of the world’s most capable military forces, the Self Defense Force (SDF), even though we continue to maintain Article Nine, which states that we must not possess any land, sea, and air forces. Yet by continuing to rely on reinterpretation, we have allowed the credibility of our constitution to diminish. On Article Nine reinterpretation, in fact, we have reached the limit [of what is allowable under our present constitution].

With regards to what a revised constitution might say, the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito agree that a new Article Nine must acknowledge our Self Defense Force. Yet given the sensitive nature of this clause, we cannot help but wait for subsequent revisions. For the first effort at constitutional revision, all of Japan’s political parties (except for the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party) are likely to agree on adding various clauses such as a clause to allow Japan to respond to crises, a clause that imposes fiscal discipline on the government, or a new clause protecting certain rights like environmental rights. In our first attempt at revising the constitution, we are likely to be able to reach a consensus on one of these issues.

For every nation, the process of revising the constitution is highly respected, and Japan is no exception. Since the ruling coalition already has a two thirds majority in the Lower House of parliament, if those in favor of revising the constitution surpasses the requisite two thirds of the seats in the Upper House this year, we will have one of the conditions for proposing change – a supermajority of our Diet members asking [the Japanese people] to amend or revise the current constitution.

More on:

Japan

However, I am cautious against proceeding with only those who are pro-revision. In order to present the Japanese people with a national referendum – and gain their approval, it is imperative that we build as large a basis of support across parties in the national Diet.

To be sure, momentum in Japan is growing for the first ever attempt at constitutional revision since the end of World War II. But it is extremely important that we do not rush. We must take our time and make steady progress by following the established procedures.

憲法改正について

昨年日本は戦後70年という大きな節目を迎えた。日本国憲法も施行以来69歳を迎えたが、世界の憲法の中でも古い部類に入る。しかし一度も改正したことがないのは、極めて珍しい。

日本国憲法は終戦後、連合軍総司令部(GHQ)から草案を提案され、帝国議会での審議ののち承認された。我が国では以前から、現行憲法はGHQから押し付けられたものだから、日本人の手によって作り変えられなければならないと言う考えが多かった。しかし最近では、その後の国際情勢や日本社会の変化によって、現実と憲法が合わなくなってきたから変えるべきだとの考えが多くなった。

日本国憲法がこれまで改正を免れたのは、その条文がよく出来ているからではない。かなり自由な解釈変更によって凌いできたというのが真相である。第9条が戦力の保持を認めないにもかかわらず、世界有数の実力部隊である自衛隊が存在しているのは、その好例である。しかしこれ以上解釈改憲に頼ることは、憲法の信頼性を損なうことにつながり、もはや限界である。

今後の憲法改正の内容については、まず9条において自衛隊の存在を明記することが与党のコンセンサスだが、大変センシティブな項目なので、2回目以降の改正に委ねざるを得ない。初回の改正においては、社民党や共産党を除く各党とも緊急事態条項、財政規律条項、そして環境権をはじめとする新しい人権の追加という点で共通しており、この中から改正テーマを絞り込んで行くこととなる。

憲法改正は各国ともその手続きを大切にしているが、我が国も例外ではない。今年夏の参議院選挙で改憲勢力が3分の2を超えると、既に衆議院が3分の2を超えているので、にわかに発議要件を満たすこととなるが、私は改憲勢力のみでこの手続きを進めることには慎重である。国民投票という高いハードルを越えるためには、国会の中でできる限り幅広い勢力の合意を求める必要がある。

戦後初めての憲法改正という機運は盛り上がりつつあるが、決して焦ることなく、定められた手続きに従って着実に歩みを進めることが、極めて重要な要素となっている。

Up
Close