Friday, January 21, 2005

Nakasone seeks revision of Constitution, calls for possessing defense army and clarifying emperor as head of state

The draft revision of the Constitution revealed Thursday
by a private policy think tank chaired by former Prime
Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone defines the emperor as the
head of state and stipulates that "defense forces"
should be maintained for self-defense.

The draft made by the Institute of International Policy
Studies in Tokyo also proposes the addition of clauses
concerning emergency situations, such as national
security breaches, terrorism and massive natural
disasters, under which provisions of the Constitution
would be suspended temporarily and the prime minister's
power increased.

Comprising a preamble and 116 articles in 11 chapters,
the draft enhances the authority of the prime minister
and defines House of Representatives elections as
virtually prime ministerial elections. It is said to be
unique in its inclusion of an article confirming the
importance of the family unit.

According to the institute, which was established in
1988, Nakasone and its members spent 1-1/2 years
compiling the draft, which the institute said it sees as
a model for a new constitution for Japan in the 21st

As for national security, the draft revision retains the
provision concerning the renunciation of war in the
first paragraph of Article 9 of the current
Constitution, but provides for maintaining defense
forces for self-defense in the second paragraph.

It also allows for the participation of a Japanese
military in activities under the auspices of the United
Nations or international cooperation for the purpose of
international peace and humanitarian aid. However,
activities in which force might be used would be subject
to Diet approval.

Although the current Constitution stipulates that
executive power is vested in the cabinet, the draft
gives exclusive administrative authority to the prime
minister to strengthen his or her leadership.

While it stipulates that the prime minister shall be
elected from among lower house members through a lower
house resolution, the draft requires political parties
to specify the names of their prime ministerial
candidates during lower house elections.

The section aims to make lower house elections into
prime ministerial elections through providing voters
with information on each party's prime ministerial
candidates, while maintaining the current parliamentary
cabinet system.

The draft also allows the prime minister to submit his
or her own bills to a referendum with support of
one-third of both houses' members if the bill conflicts
with the Diet.

According to the draft, the bill can be enacted if the
populace agrees.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

China warns Japan against new defense plan

China Tuesday urged Japan to refrain from "unilateral
action" following reports that Tokyo has developed a
plan to defend islands in disputed parts of the East
China Sea.

"China always advocates that the disputes on this issue
between China and Japan should be resolved through
consultation," foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan told
a regular briefing.

"Both sides should refrain from any unilateral action."

The Japanese plan calls for the dispatch of 55,000
troops as well as warplanes, destroyers and submarines
from Japan's main islands in the event of an attack on
Okinawa and other remote islands, Kyodo news agency said

The islands include the Senkakus, known in Chinese as
the Diaoyu islands, which both countries claim as their

"China takes this seriously and has reaffirmed on many
occasions that Diaoyu island and its related islands
have been part of Chinese territory since ancient
times," said Kong.

In November Japan made public its new defense guidelines
which for the first time explicitly point to China as a
potential threat, along with North Korea.