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Japan's lower house approves bill to revise referendum law

(Xinhua)    18:37, May 09, 2014
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TOKYO, May 9 -- Japan's House of Representatives on Friday approved a bill to revise the referendum law as part of effort to achieve Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's goal to amend the pacifist Constitution, local media reported.

The bill, endorsed by the ruling coalition led by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party as well as some opposition parties, will lower the voting age to 18 from the current 20 four years after the revised law takes effect. Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party voted against it.

The House of Councillors or upper house of parliament will deliberate the revision bill later on, which is expected to become law before the current Diet session ends on June 22, according to Japan's Kyodo News Agency.

Nevertheless, amending the pacifist Constitution, which has never been revised since its promulgation in 1946, has drawn criticism from some opposition lawmakers, largely due to Abe's political stance.

His efforts to lift the ban on exercising collective self- defense right and expand arms exports have aroused concerns of neighboring countries which suffered from Japan's aggression.

If approved, the bill will also allow civil servants to take part in organizational efforts to rally support for or opposition to proposed constitutional amendments.

But the additional clause of the bill says the House of Councillors will separately consider rules on organizational campaigning, apparently reflecting the LDP's cautiousness over possible protests by public workers' labor unions against constitutional revision, said Kyodo News Agency.

(Editor:KongDefang、Yao Chun)

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