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Abe says he will seek 'flexible' discussions on constitutional revision

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July 22  05:40 pm JST  36 CommentsTOKYO

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he is prepared to be more flexible in any future discussions in parliament on revising Japan's Constitution, a day after pro-amendment forces failed to retain in an upper house election their two-thirds majority needed to initiate the process.

"Although we have provided a basis for debate, which we believe is the best, we want to have flexible discussions without sticking to our proposal," Abe said in a news conference.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party has proposed a constitutional revision plan centering on clarifying the status of the Self-Defense Forces in the war-renouncing Article 9 of the supreme law.

On Sunday, the LDP and its coalition partner the Komeito party, along with like-minded opposition and independent lawmakers, secured 81 seats in total. Combined with seats uncontested in the election, they secured 160, falling short of the 164 needed in the chamber to propose amending the pacifist Constitution.

Noting that one of the major issues of the election was constitutional revision, Abe said the fact that his ruling bloc was able to take a majority of the seats that were up for grabs, proved that voters judged it is necessary to "at least" start discussions on the issue.

He called for other political parties, including the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, to face the will of the voters and present their proposals.

"I am certain that serious debates will take place regardless of positions of the ruling and opposition parties," he said, expressing his desire to craft a constitutional revision plan that could be approved by the Diet.

Amending the Constitution requires two-thirds majorities in both chambers and simple-majority support in an eventual national referendum. The ruling coalition maintains a two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower house.

Abe said he is planning to convene an extraordinary Diet session on Aug 1 to choose the House of Councillors' new president.

Asked about a reshuffle of his Cabinet and senior LDP executives, Abe, who is president of the party, said he has yet to decide and will take time to think about it.