Statement on Enactment of a Law concerning Procedures to Amend the Constitution
A bill to establish procedures to amend the Constitution of Japan (the Constitution) cleared the House of Councillors today.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has pointed out that the bill contained many problems from the standpoint to respect the principles of the Constitution including the sovereignty of the people and the nature of the Constitution as a rigid constitution. The bill did not stipulate a minimum turnout of voters, imposed various restrictions on campaigns for a national referendum which might intimidate the people from discussing freely, and did not provide sufficient rules for fair advertising on television, radio, and newspapers in order to make it used regardless of financial ability.
The JFBA truly regrets that the Diet prematurely passed the bill with a modification, which was made on March 27, in a extremely short deliberation period after the publicity of the bill without a broad public debate, considering it still contained serious problems as mentioned above over which careful deliberations were necessary. The deliberation on the bill was obviously insufficient as it was adopted with 18 supplementary resolutions including a request to consider the meaning of setting up a minimum turnout of voters and whether it should be provided or not.
Provisions concerning procedures for a national referendum will take effect in three years after the promulgation of the law. Examination committees on the Constitution, which will be established in both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors once the law is promulgated, however, will not submit and examine any bills to amend the Constitution until the implementation of the provisions on a national referendum.
For ensuring that a national referendum truly reflects the people's wills, the JFBA strongly urges the Diet to fundamentally review the law, not limited to the issues in the supplementary resolutions, within these three years from the point of view that the right to amend the Constitution belongs to the people.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
May 14, 2007