We protest against the railroading of bill to revised national referendum act to pave the way for constitutional revision and a bill to regulate land use to prepare for war and carry out surveillance of the public
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
June 16, 2021
A bill to revise the national referendum act, a measure linked to constitutional revision, was enacted after being railroaded through the House of Councilors on June 11, followed late at night the same day by the enactment of a bill to regulate land use. We strongly protest such anti-constitutional act that ignores people’s call for a thorough discussion and cancellation of the bill in the final stages of the ordinary session of the Diet at a time when many people are experiencing exacerbated hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The amended procedures for constitutional revision are defective for some reasons: the law does not set a required minimum voter turnout; it lacks provisions to regulate TV commercials; and it did not correct the problems cited in the 2007 additional resolution, including restrictions of public service workers’ activity on the national referendum. In a hearing held at the House of Councilors Commission on the Constitution, all three experts, including one recommended by the ruling party, pointed out that deliberation is immature. But their opinions were ignored. The latest amendment is supposed to follow the Public Offices Election Law. But it must not apply to procedures for Constitutional revision. The ruling and opposition parties have reached no agreement regarding how to interpret a provision on further measures to be taken in three years.
The former government led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo sought to revise the Constitution in 2020 focusing on four provisions, including the definition of the role of the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 and the creation of a provision of “state of emergency.” The amended national referendum law is designed to pave the way for such constitutional changes. The attempt to enact the amendments were thwarted throughout eight sessions of the Diet by joint struggle by the citizens’ movement and opposition parties, which oppose Abe’s plan to revise the Constitution leading to the destruction of democracy and constitutionalism. The present government led by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide blames the Constitution for the slow progress in anti-coronavirus measures and is repeating remarks deliberately arguing for constitutional changes by mixing up a state of emergency declaration with a constitutional provision on state of emergency. The bad anti-coronavirus measures taken by the Suga government has resulted losing lives day after day. The government should concentrate on anti-coronavirus measures by taking advantage of the Constitution instead of trying to call for the four constitutional changes.
The law to regulate land use will allow the authorities to investigate and monitor users and residents on land within one kilometer designated as land for “important facilities,” such as the bases/facilities of the US military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, remote islands near the national border, and nuclear power plants and other life-related facilities. The law is ostensibly aimed at protecting land near “important facilities” from foreigners or foreign capital. But it does not specifically say what are regarded as acts that inhibit the functions of those facilities; it only says the matter will be dealt with by a basic policy, which will be adopted later by the Cabinet, or by future ministerial ordinances. This means that the Prime Minister is authorized to define “important facilities” and acts that inhibit the functions of the important facilities and decide the scope and methods of “investigation”. These are exactly a brake failure, which the experts worried about at the hearing in the Diet. The Diet will be unable to intervene into the matter, as the law gives the Prime Minister carte blanche on this matter. It can be taken taking steps in advance to institute a state f emergency provision, which is called for by pro-constitutional revision forces. The SDF bases on the Nansei (Southwestern) Islands are being reinforced. US forces are repeatedly carrying out low-altitude flight training other military exercises in many other areas of Japan. Under President Joe Biden’s administration, the United States is increasing its hardline stance toward China, making the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ participation in US action realistic in the event of an emergency in the Taiwan Strait. In these circumstances, carrying out an extensive investigation ostensibly to see how the residents are using land within one kilometer from a military base for “security” purposes is actually aimed at cracking down on the anti-military base movement and the movement against nuclear power. We will continue to demand the law to restrict land use be repealed along with the War Laws, the state secrets protection law, and the “conspiracy crime” law.
The two legislative measures show clearly that the Suga government is even more autocratic. Opposition parties that stand for constitutionalism should present political alternative as soon as possible so that people’s safety and living are secured.
We will campaign against initiation of a constitutional revision process to block adverse revision of the Constitution. Zenroren will do all it can to change government after he upcoming Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the House of Representatives election.