Photo/IllutrationHiroyuki Hosoda, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's constitutional reform promotion headquarters, addresses a meeting of the panel on Feb. 28. (Takeshi Iwashita)

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has settled a debate in favor of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal on revising pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution.

At a Feb. 28 meeting of the LDP’s constitutional reform promotion headquarters, Chairman Hiroyuki Hosoda indicated that a draft proposal related to Article 9 would be put together by mid-March and follow the direction laid out by Abe.

Abe in May 2017 proposed that new wording be added to clearly define the existence of the Self-Defense Forces while also leaving intact the two present paragraphs of Article 9.

The prime minister said he wanted to “put an end to the situation in which arguments are still made that the SDF is unconstitutional.”

The second paragraph states that war potential will never be maintained and that the right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

In past meetings of the promotion headquarters, some members argued that keeping the second paragraph would lead to contradictions and urged that it be deleted.

Shigeru Ishiba, a former LDP secretary-general, was one of the strongest proponents of doing away with the second paragraph. But he has indicated in recent days that he would go along with any formal decision made by the party as a whole on revising Article 9.

That stance apparently convinced party executives that they should push for an agreement on Article 9 along the lines laid out by Abe.

Discussions within the promotion headquarters on Feb. 28 also centered on what to do with the second paragraph.

Many members called for maintaining the second paragraph while adding wording about the SDF as being the minimum necessary organization for force. But some still opposed keeping the second paragraph because it states that war potential will not be maintained.

The meeting also approved a proposal to revise two articles related to education that would obligate the government to provide measures to ensure that no child is denied the opportunity for education because of economic reasons.

The promotion headquarters is seeking to put together a draft proposal for revising the Constitution by March 25 when the LDP is scheduled to hold a party convention.