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Amending the Constitution

On May 3, Constitution Memorial Day, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō issued a decisive call for constitutional reform, conveying his determination to see a revised Constitution come into force by the year 2020. With the ruling Liberal Democratic Party gearing up to submit a draft to the Diet this coming fall, we examine some of the key issues and assess Abe’s chances of presiding over the first constitutional revision since 1946.

Prime Minister Abe’s Drive to Amend the Constitution: Can He Overcome the Hurdles?Takenaka Harukata

Prime Minister Abe is aiming to amend the Constitution of Japan by 2020. But support for his administration has declined sharply, and if he insists on pushing ahead with the amendment process according to his intended schedule, he runs the risk of failing both at revising the Constitution and at holding on to power.

The Anomalous Life of the Japanese ConstitutionKenneth Mori McElwain

The Japanese Constitution was drafted in the early postwar years and has never been amended. In this essay, a constitutional history and politics specialist examines Japan’s basic law as compared to its counterparts around the world. Do its brevity and reliance on legislation to alter its impact mean that Prime Minister Abe Shinzō does not need to focus on amending the Constitution to achieve his policy goals?

Beyond Article 9: Broader Considerations for Japanese Constitutional ReformInoue Takeshi

In Japan, debate over constitutional revision tends to focus narrowly on such hot-button issues as Article 9 (Renunciation of War) and the status of the emperor. Constitutional scholar Inoue Takeshi argues for a broader conversation—encompassing such issues as environmental rights, gender parity, and intergenerational equity—to pave the way for reforms needed to strengthen and modernize Japan’s democracy.

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