Kyodo News
Back to Main
Abe proposes to add civilian control clause in Constitution revision

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday proposed adding a new
clause to the Constitution on the principle of civilian control over
the country's Self-Defense Forces as part of a revision of the
supreme law sought by his ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Constitutional amendment has become one of the key political
issues as parties have begun preparing for the general election on
Oct. 22.

The LDP is seeking to add an explicit mention of the status of
the SDF to Article 9 of the war-renouncing Constitution. The SDF is
currently governed by its own law, allowing for the contention that
it could be unconstitutional.

Asked in an online debate if the Constitution's mention of the
SDF would weaken the Defense Ministry's control over the troops, Abe
said the amendment his party seeks will put an end to "a barren
discussion" on its constitutionality.

"If (the Constitution) clearly states civilian control, it will
become even more clear" that the prime minister has the ultimate
command over the SDF and that the SDF is allowed to operate only
within the boundaries of the law, Abe said in the debate with leaders
of major parties shown on a video posting site Nico Nico Douga.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who heads the newly launched Party of
Hope, said a debate on whether to amend Article 9 is "unavoidable" in
reviewing the whole Constitution, though she stopped short of going
into details.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan's leader Yukio
Edano said his party is opposed to mentioning the SDF in the
Constitution, saying such an amendment would effectively justify the
security legislation which took effect last year to allow a greater
role for the SDF.

Edano's party, formed by former members of the disintegrating
Democratic Party, sees the security legislation as unconstitutional.
(Oct. 7)