Kazuo Aichi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?
from Asia Unbound and Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

Kazuo Aichi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

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. 

The next four essays present the views of leading Japanese legislators on constitutional revision.  I invited each to share their thoughts with us, and all four graciously agreed to comment in Japanese. I have translated the essays into English for an audience largely unfamiliar with Japanese politics. For readers with greater in-depth knowledge of Japan, I have included the original Japanese-language essay as reference.

More on:


Our first reflection today is by former Lower House Member Kazuo Aichi, a long time leader of the Liberal Democratic Party’s deliberations on constitutional revision. Before he retired in 2009, Aichi served for eight terms (from 1976-2000), representing the first district constituency of Miyagi prefecture, and returned to office in 2005 for his final term. In the Diet, he served as director of the Special Research Commission on the Constitution in the Lower House. Today, he serves as secretary general of the Caucus for A New Japanese Constitution, a cross party group of legislators led by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in support of constitutional revision.

On Constitutional Revision by Kazuo Aichi

Because of the hard work of many, most of the obstacles to revising Japan’s constitution have been removed. We now have a national referendum law, for example, and so we are prepared to tackle constitutional revision at any time.

Now it is up to the will of the Japanese people. The only question that remains is whether our citizens want to renew their constitution. Sovereignty resides in the people in any democracy, and I believe that the time has come for the Japanese people to realize that they are in charge of drafting a new constitution that will reflect today’s changing Japanese society.

Constitutional revision provides the only opportunity for the people of Japan to get directly involved in defining what should be the fundamental principle of our nation’s politics. It is an exercise of popular sovereignty – their ultimate right in our democracy.

More on:


Since the end of World War II, Japan has experienced almost seventy years of liberal democracy, and there have been repeated debates among politicians over this task of constitutional revision. Now, I believe, the people of Japan are well positioned to take a more active role in this debate and to clarify where they stand on this question of revision.

My belief is that the Japanese do not simply want to approve or reject drafts proposed by their Diet. Rather, I think that the people of my country want the opportunity to have their voices and their experiences directly reflected in the draft.

People from across Japan want their regional perspectives to be heard, and there is a strong desire for a vigorous discussion that will allow us to build a consensus around a new draft.

The Japanese people must play the central role in this process of constitutional revision if it is to be worthy of our nation in this new twenty-first century. I believe Japan’s political parties must take the steps necessary to realize this popular participation in a national debate. Shouldn’t this discussion over our constitution help our democracy mature? My sense is that our democracy can grow further as the current democratic system still seems dominated by the national bureaucracy rather than by the will of the people.

If you would like me to comment on specific articles for revision, I would have to say that Article Nine ought ultimately to be revised. However, I would also argue that it might be wiser for us to shelve this effort, and maintain Article Nine as is for now.

Article Ninety-six, on the other hand, should be revised so as to make changes in our constitution easier. I believe this would make it easier for the Japanese public to participate in the revision process.

Finally, I believe that we should add some new provisions to our constitution. I would support adding a provision for environmental protection and a provision that would allow our government to respond quickly to national crises.