Japan revises referendum law with eye on constitutional amendment

Tokyo, June 11 (EFE).- Japan approved a bill on Friday to revise the procedures for holding a national referendum for a speedy constitutional amendment that grants more powers to the armed forces and the government during emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

The parliament approved the draft legislation after three years of debate.

The revision will make it easier for citizens to vote by allowing them to cast their ballots at train stations and shopping complexes, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Hiroshi Moriyama, the Diet affairs chief of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), welcomed the consensus reached by the parties.

Moriyama noted the importance of refining discussions on the specific content of the constitutional reform.

The amendment of the referendum law was proposed in mid-2018 by the government of the then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his controversial desire to amend the pacifist Japanese constitution.

The current constitution of Japan was written during the US occupation after World War II and came into effect in 1947.

Article 9 of the constitution prohibits Tokyo from engaging in any preemptive military action.

Japan argues that it has prevented the country from gaining strategic importance at an international level.

The Abe government approved a new interpretation of Article 9 that allows Japan to exercise a so-called “collective auto-defense” right.

Constitutional reform requires ratification by two-thirds of the Japanese parliament and a majority in a national referendum.

The amendment to the referendum law comes amid increased calls for the inclusion of a clause in the constitution to grant more authority to the central government and limit individual rights during emergencies.

The country has not decreed a lockdown since the pandemic began despite having declared multiple states of an emergency involving cooperation from the public and businesses because it does not have legal mechanisms to do so. EFE


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