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Japanese Law on Referendum for Revising Constitution Takes Effect
Source: japantoday.com
Source Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, Citizen Engagement, Internet Governance
Country: Japan
Created: May 24, 2010

A law on a referendum for revising the Constitution came into effect on Tuesday, three years after its enactment, setting the scene for people to vote on any proposed revision of the pacifist Constitution. The National Referendum Law stipulates procedures for constitutional revisions and allows revision proposals to be submitted to the Diet at any time.

But the deliberative councils on the Constitution in both houses of the Diet, where draft revision proposals are to be deliberated, have so far been dormant. The law was enacted in 2007 by a coalition led by the then ruling Liberal Democratic Party as part of the party’s House of Councillors election manifesto.

However, the Democratic Party of Japan, which wrested power from the LDP in the House of Representatives election last August, has been reluctant to debate the issue as one of its coalition partners—the Social Democratic Party—staunchly opposes changing the Constitution.

As the law allows people aged 18 or older to vote in a referendum on revising the Constitution, it requires that other relevant laws also be revised before its enforcement to lower the age to 18 from 20 to be eligible to vote in elections, but the government has taken no concrete steps, citing the need for more discussion.

Meanwhile, the main opposition LDP has been studying revisions to its draft new constitution worked out in 2005 to make it more conservative, ahead of this summer’s upper house election.
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