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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012

LDP's nuclear, constitutional stances not ally's


Staff writer

The Liberal Democratic Party and ally New Komeito vowed Wednesday to carry out monetary easing, speed up reconstruction of the disaster-pounded Tohoku region and pursue other key goals after they again form a ruling coalition on Dec. 26.

In their second round of coalition-preparation talks, the two parties also agreed to let the Diet's bicameral Commission on the Constitution consider whether to amend the nation's charter, particularly its war-renouncing Article 9. The dovish, Buddhist-backed New Komeito has opposed the right-leaning LDP's push, particularly under former-and-again-soon-to-be-reinstalled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to boost the military's status.

The panel was launched in 2007 under Abe's first short-lived prime ministership, a position he is expected to return to Dec. 26 due to the LDP's landslide win in Sunday's Lower House election.

While the LDP, led by the hawkish Abe, hopes to amend the Constitution and rename the Self-Defense Forces the National Defense Force, which in Japanese sounds more like the true military force that it is, New Komeito wants to keep the current pacifist Constitution intact.

Abe has said the LDP first aims to revise the Constitution's Article 96 to state that only 50 percent of lawmakers in both chambers must vote for amending the charter, instead of the current two-thirds, before any change is put to a plebiscite.

On nuclear power, another key bone of contention for the two parties, they agreed to pursue a gradual lessening of Japan's reliance on atomic power, but they stopped short of calling for a total phaseout.

New Komeito seeks to end the use of nuclear power, but the LDP, which promoted reactors, is seen as more inclined to get the nation's atomic plants back online.



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The Japan Times

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