As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration aspires to revise the pacifist Constitution, a national referendum on constitutional amendment would likely be called separately from a national election should the Diet ever propose a change to the supreme law, sources close to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have revealed.
The referendum, if held, would be the first of its kind in Japan and would likely take place sometime after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. As the next House of Representatives election looms in December 2018 or earlier and the House of Councillors election is scheduled for the summer of 2019, while deliberations on constitutional revision have yet to deepen at the Commission on the Constitution at each chamber of the Diet, a national referendum is unlikely to take place until after the 2020 Games.
Abe aims to win the LDP presidential election in September next year to secure three additional years as prime minister, after which he is likely to pursue the timing of a national referendum on constitutional revision.
Article 96 of the Constitution allows for calling a national referendum on constitutional amendment both independently or simultaneously with a national election. However, ruling and opposition members of the lower house Research Commission on the Constitution, which was set up in 2000, concluded that a national referendum and a national election should not take place simultaneously.
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