This general view shows shows members in the chamber during the opening session of the lower house of parliament in Tokyo on Jan 18, 2021. (KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)
TOKYO - A bill to amend Japan's national referendum law on revision of the Constitution is likely to be enacted during the current parliamentary session, as a lower house commission on the Constitution green-lit the bill on Thursday following the main opposition party insisting it be modified.
The approval of the bill, however, only came as a result of the pro-revisionist LDP accepting the CDPJ's insistence that the bill be modified with a clause added, stating that restrictions must be placed on financing and media and campaign advertising for a national referendum
The passage of the bill was as a result of a majority vote by the pro-revision ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), its junior coalition Komeito ally, the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party (CDPJ) and the Democratic Party for the People.
The approval of the bill, however, only came as a result of the pro-revisionist LDP accepting the CDPJ's insistence that the bill be modified with a clause added, stating that restrictions must be placed on financing and media and campaign advertising for a national referendum within three years after the revised law comes into effect.
Some more specifics include the CDPJ only agreeing to back the bill to amend Japan's national referendum law on revision of the Constitution if the ruling party's plans for placing polling stations in highly-populated areas such as near train stations and shopping malls are restricted, as well as restrictions placed on media advertising on the referendum revision.
Without the restrictions being added to the bill, the CDPJ has argued that the LDP's deep-pockets for campaign funding would calculatingly influence voters' decisions.
The main opposition party's demands for the bill to be modified were met during a meeting earlier Thursday between the secretary generals of the CDPJ and the LDP.
The modified bill is now expected to be backed by the lower house plenary session slated for next Tuesday prior to being sent to the upper house, lawmakers said.
The ruling LDP has remained committed to trying to rewrite Japan's post-war, pacifist charter, which has remained unchanged since the supreme law came into effect.
For the ruling party to propose a revision to the Constitution, a two-thirds majority is required in both chambers of Japan's bicameral parliament before a national referendum on the matter.
The opposition bloc, in contrast to the LDP, has been ardently opposed to revising the pacifist charter, particularly the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.
The general public has also staunchly opposed any changes being made to Article 9 of the Constitution, which has been in effect since 1947 after the country's defeat in World War II.
Numerous, renowned Japanese scholars and political observers also believe that even if the ruling party were to manage to garner the two-thirds majority required in both houses of parliament necessary to call a referendum, they would fail to secure a majority in a national vote due to a reluctant public.
HONG KONG NEWS