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LEAD: LDP marks 50th anniversary with new platform, draft Constitution.

TOKYO, Nov. 22 Kyodo


Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party marked the 50th anniversary of its foundation Tuesday, resolving to advance reforms based on tradition and promoting a draft new Constitution designed to let Japan play a greater international security role.

In an address as LDP president, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated his vow to further promote reforms following the party's landslide victory in the Sept. 11 general election, referring to major past reforms -- to modernize Japan in the late 19th century and rebuild it from the ashes after World War II.

''The LDP was able to gain huge public support in the general election on its 50th anniversary,'' Koizumi told a gathering of some 3,000 participants at a Tokyo hotel.

''We take it as an expression of appreciation for our performance in the past 50 years and willingness to advance reforms, and feel great responsibility,'' he said.

The party, which has held power for nearly 50 years except for 11 months from 1993 to 1994, also formally updated its philosophy and platform for the first time since 1995, featuring policies of pursuing self-defense and a new Constitution.

Formed on Nov. 15, 1955 through the merger of the Democratic and Liberal parties, the LDP initially planned to hold the commemorative event on Nov. 15, but put it off by one week because of Princess Sayako's wedding on that date.

At Tuesday's gathering, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who heads the party's Constitution drafting panel, said its proposed new Constitution is aimed at ''winning sympathy broadly from the public.''

The LDP's draft new Constitution rewrites the entire preamble and features possession of military forces for self-defense by revising the second clause of Article 9, which prohibits Japan from possessing ''land, sea and air forces as well as other war potential.''

The provision on military forces is designed to clear the way for Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, or coming to the military aid of an ally, and to play a larger role in international security efforts, according to the LDP. The government interprets the Constitution as banning the exercise of the right of collective self-defense.

But the draft maintains that the emperor is the symbol of the state and leaves intact the war-renouncing key phrase of the 1947 Constitution.

Among the guest speakers, New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki called for ''active discussions'' with the LDP on ways to amend the Constitution. New Komeito, the LDP's governing coalition partner since 1999, has been reluctant to change the Constitution's articles and prefers adding new clauses, such as on new types of human rights.

Japan Business Federation Chairman Hiroshi Okuda offered the business lobby's continued support for the LDP, saying the party and the economic community have worked as a ''pair of wheels'' to attain Japan's economic growth.

British Ambassador to Japan Graham Fry called on Japan to more actively engage with international issues, extending Britain's support for Japan's bid to get permanent U.N. Security Council membership.

Meanwhile, the party's new six-point philosophy states the LDP's resolve to enable Japan to protect itself, to promote reform ''from long-term and international viewpoints'' and to promote ''respect for Japan's tradition and culture,'' while maintaining three principles -- that the LDP is a liberal, democratic and pacifist party.

The new platform adds the policies that the LDP will ''strive to formulate a national agreement in order to establish a new the near future,'' and revise the basic education law to push for the Japanese people to ''love the nation and their communities.''

The 10-point platform also includes a policy to curb Japan's falling birthrate and fight terrorism. It deletes its 1995 ideas of pursuing a path as an ''international peace-seeking nation'' in the post-Cold War era and ''fresh and new'' politics amid Japan's major political realignment.

In concluding the roughly 80-minute convention, Taizo Sugimura, the youngest of the 83 lawmakers newly elected in the House of Representatives election, read out a declaration for the party's 50th anniversary.

Pointing out such challenges as the falling birthrate and international terrorism, the declaration commits the LDP to further promote reforms, respect Japan's history, traditions and culture, try to boost public morals and realize a nation that plays an active role in the international community.

To mark the 50th anniversary, the LDP has adopted the new philosophy and platform, the draft Constitution and the 50th-year declaration step by step at its decision-making General Council since spring this year.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Nov 28, 2005
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