Photo/IllutrationHiroyuki Hosoda, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's constitutional reform promotion headquarters, addresses a panel session on Feb. 7. (Takeshi Iwashita)

To get the ball rolling on revising pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution, all ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers on Feb. 7 were instructed to write out their own proposed revisions within 10 days.

Debate in the LDP’s constitutional reform promotion headquarters that day focused on the article’s second paragraph, which among other things prohibits Japan from possessing war potential.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for keeping the second paragraph but adding new wording to clearly define the legal existence of the Self-Defense Forces.

However, some LDP members, notably Shigeru Ishiba, considered a rival to Abe in the next party presidential election, have said the second paragraph should be eliminated.

Hiroyuki Hosoda, chairman of the headquarters, asked the party’s lawmakers to write out their ideas to show where they stand on Article 9.

The proposals will be used to find common ground on the issue and to determine what needs to be ironed out before the LDP comes up with its final proposal for amending Article 9.

Late last year, when the headquarters compiled the main points of discussion, the two proposals regarding the second paragraph of Article 9 were included together.

“The most important aspect will be to gain public understanding and receive approval from a wide segment of the population,” Hosoda said about any amendment proposal at the Feb. 7 headquarters meeting.

Those in favor of keeping the second paragraph and adding wording to Article 9 argue that the proposal would quickly resolve any lingering questions about the constitutionality of the SDF.

Lawmakers skeptical about eliminating the second paragraph also mentioned the possibility that removing it could allow for unrestricted exercise of the right of collective self-defense.

Abe had raised that issue in the Diet when he argued in favor of retaining the second paragraph.

The concern behind that argument is that a large portion of the populace would never go for such an expansion of the SDF’s potential activities.

The panel members who attended the Feb. 7 session generally seemed to favor keeping the second paragraph, according to high-ranking executives of the headquarters.

But that did not completely silence those who have doubts about the logical implications of maintaining the second paragraph and adding wording about the SDF.

In addition, other members presented another proposal of keeping the second paragraph but adding wording stating that Japan has the right to self-defense.