The Liberal Democratic Party’s task force on constitutional amendments thrashed out numerous proposals submitted by ruling party lawmakers on revisions to pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution on Feb. 28.

More than 100 LDP lawmakers responded to the request for suggestions.

The 120 ideas vary widely with regard to such weighty issues as whether the second paragraph of Article 9, which bans Japan from maintaining armed forces and renounces the “right of belligerency,” should be removed or not and whether to enshrine an additional paragraph to refer to the validity of the Self-Defense Forces or Japan’s right to self-defense.

We were taken aback by the haste and rashness with which the ruling party is handling this momentous issue.

The LDP plans to draft its amendment proposal based on the task force’s discussions at a party convention on March 25. That is about one month from now, and the task force asked the party lawmakers to submit proposals only three weeks ago.

This is simply not the way the ruling party should debate constitutional amendment.

The task force seems to be bent on rubber-stamping Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for enshrining the status of the Self-Defense Forces while maintaining the current two paragraphs of the article.

But many of the ruling camp's arguments for rewriting Article 9 don’t make sense.

A lawsuit over controversial national security legislation filed by an active member of the Ground Self-Defense Force points to a glitch in the administration's rationale.

The lawsuit has raised the issue of the constitutionality of mobilization orders for collective self-defense operations that may be issued should Japan face what the government calls “sonritsu kiki jitai,” or a security crisis that threatens the nation's survival due to an attack against a country that has close relations with Japan.

The government has maintained it is unable to envisage a scenario in which Japan faces a crisis of such magnitude as defined by the law.

How could this claim be consistent with Abe’s argument for justifying the security legislation, which is based on the threat to Japan’s security posed by North Korea’s arms programs that he has been stressing so vocally?

One has to wonder what is the objective of the ruling party’s move to rewrite the Constitution, in the first place.

Abe says he wants to bring an end to any arguments that the SDF’s existence is unconstitutional.

As he himself has acknowledged, however, the constitutionality of the SDF has been consistently endorsed by the successive administrations and solidly supported by most members of the public.

Abe has said his proposal to establish the SDF’s status in the Constitution will not change its tasks or powers. He also stated that the SDF’s constitutionality will not be affected by a rejection of his proposals in a national referendum.

If so, there is no need to revise the article.

The LDP is in a totally senseless rush to push through Abe’s initiative to amend the Constitution without offering convincing answers to fundamental questions.

Commenting on Abe’s goal of putting the amendment into force in 2020, LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura, who serves as a special adviser to the task force, said, “This is what Abe wants.”

Komura added that since “it is the desire of the head of the party that holds an overwhelming majority (in the Diet), it should carry weight accordingly.”

With his sights set on re-election to a third term as LDP president in the scheduled party leadership election this autumn, Abe is apparently maneuvering to accomplish his long-held political ambition to amend the Constitution while he is in office for enforcement in 2020, when Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics.

To achieve this goal, Abe has opted for the proposal to keep the second paragraph intact, which is more likely to win the cooperation of Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, and public support in a national referendum, over the more radical one to erase it.

This is probably the real explanation for the hasty move by Abe and the LDP leadership to push through the proposal.

The LDP seems to be rushing to adopt the amendment proposal that has the best chance of helping make Abe’s wish come true while running roughshod over the 70-year efforts by successive Cabinets to clear up the government interpretations of the Constitution and Diet debate on constitutional issues.

The way the LDP is handling this matter cannot, by any measure, be considered as a responsible approach to amending the Constitution.

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 1