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LDP wants constitutional change to make emperor head of state.

TOKYO, May 24 Kyodo

Parliamentary discussions on whether to revise the Constitution began in earnest Thursday, with the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party proposing that the emperor be referred to as Japan's head of state, rather than ''the symbol,'' as currently stipulated.

During the meeting of the House of Representatives' commission on the Constitution, LDP lawmaker Gen Nakatani said the emperor should be called head of state since he represents Japan in diplomatic affairs.

But the LDP's ally, the New Komeito party, and two smaller opposition parties, the Kizuna Party and the Social Democratic Party, rejected the idea, saying there is more public acceptance in having the emperor as the symbol of the state. Your Party, meanwhile, backed the LDP's proposal.

The session marked the first full-fledged discussions on the articles of the Constitution since the commission and a similar entity in the upper house launched their activities in November.

Regarding the succession to the imperial throne, the SDP called for making it possible for a female to take the throne, and New Komeito was positive toward the suggestion.

Ruling Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Ikuo Yamahana, meanwhile, called for a referendum in the event of revisions to the Imperial House Law, such as allowing a female to take the throne.

The LDP and Your Party said the national flag and national anthem must be stipulated in the Constitution, but this was opposed by New Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party and the SDP. The flag and anthem are sensitive topics as critics say they are symbols of Japan's military past.

The commission will basically meet every week and study all 11 chapters and preamble. They will tackle in the next meeting on Thursday the second chapter on the renunciation of war.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 29, 2012
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