From WEEKLY MDS No.935, May 5, 2006 logo

Induction for New Constitution toward War and Rights Deprivation - National Referendum Bill Must Go

Rapid development toward enactment during the current Diet session

Rapidly developing are moves around the national referendum bill designed for "revision of the Constitution." On April 18, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito Party gave broad approval to the revised version of the ruling parties' draft referendum bill (the December 2004 version) at a meeting of the Government Ruling Parties Council on the national referendum bill. They are now in agreement to do their best in making adjustment with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), looking to make it pass the Diet during the current session.

The essential injustice embedded in the national referendum bill lies in that it is designed to legitimate the move to replace the Constitution with a new one that denies the current constitutional principles, or in other terms, the move to destroy the Constitution.

Prime Minister KOIZUMI Junichiro and the LDP are distributing demagogy disguised in apparent "common sense" that "an amending procedure is a must," seeking a timing for submission of the bill to the Diet. However, there is no need for any amending procedure documentation where there is no national debate or agreement on any "revision of the Constitution." Moreover, the new constitution draft prepared by the LDP aims not only to void Article 9 but also to induce a coup d'etat-like reconstruction of the nation by subverting the principle of sovereignty of the people and to diminish the standing of fundamental human rights in the name of "public interest." While having an official duty to comply with the Constitution, Prime Minister Koizumi is committing a misconduct by advocating this drive.

We must thoroughly expose how vicious it is to conceal this injustice and unconstitutionality while directing the public opinion into advocacy of constitutional turnaround by starting with the establishment of procedures for revising the Constitution.

Bill that denies democracy

The following points sum up the latest draft agreed upon between the LDP and New Komeito: (1) A proposal for constitutional amendment shall require at least 100 supporters from the House of Representatives and 50 from the House of Councilors; (2) The period for publicizing the proposal shall be 60 to 180 days; (3) A yes-no style voting shall be used; (4) Eligible voters must be aged 20 or older; and (5) A simple majority of the total valid ballots is required to pass an amended constitution. The most fiercely criticized provision in the previous draft bill from the ruling parties concerning media control has been partially deleted and the publicity period is now slightly longer than the original (30 - 90 days).

The media reported that the LDP had approached the DPJ's standing, represented by The Asahi Shimbun issued on April 19, describing as if the bill were "better" now. No way. We must see its anti-democratic nature alienated from the world common sense still in place; public workers and teachers will be unjustly deprived of their rights to wage campaigns in a referendum; there is no minimum requirement of the voting rate for a referendum to be valid, and so on. The issue of media control rendered as "softened" still causes even the NHK's directors and the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan (management-side organization) to burst into criticism as it retains provisions for "self-imposed control" and "prohibition of publicity on TV." Also, the revised publicity period is still far too short to ensure national debate.

In short, they are simply building an arena for an LDP-DPJ joint proposal of a referendum bill as these two parties share a similar policy for the promotion of constitutional changeover.

Indeed, it is essentially impossible for the national referendum bill to cherish democracy; it is aimed at such revision of the Constitution as to destroy the people's rights and freedoms. After all, the procedures are also in a coup d'etat-like style.

Counter in unity with the Non-Defended Localities movement

However, these extremely high-handed actions also reveal Koizumi's frustration as he seeks quick establishment of a new constitution for war and oppression.

Even though Japan is now a member of the nations occupying Iraq and the Japanese administration is fueling hostility toward Korea and China and continues its warmongering policies, a majority of the public still remains opposed to the notion to revise Article 9. Discontent is swirling across the entire population, among different classes and groups, with the neo-liberal policy line of global capitalism that destroys living and rights, with its real meaning manifested in diminished social welfare and support for medical expenses as well as in employment destabilization.

Turn the eyes to the world, and we see neo-liberalism being condemned in France, Italy and Latin America. Koizumi's sworn ally, Bush, is also in a situation trashed as "sinking like the Titanic."

In May, Japan has a Constitution Week. Bundle anger from all classes and groups and spread struggles throughout the country, uniting campaigns against the LDP's new constitution draft with the Non-Defended Localities movement for creating peace and local autonomy stipulated in the Constitution. Let us scrap the national referendum bill. (April 23)

Copyright Weekly MDS