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Japan kept no record of talks over revised constitution, report says

The lack of records would make it harder in the future to verify how a historic decision took place, according to an analyst.

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan kept no record of talks over revised constitution, report says
Japanese lawmakers of the House of Councilors scuffled during a vote of the upper house special committee for the security-related bills in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept. 17. Opponents of the bill have said the law would lead to unwanted Japanese involvement in U.S.-led conflicts around the world, and Japan press reported Monday the details on the landmark decision are missing from government records. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

TOKYO, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Japan did not leave a record of discussions regarding its reinterpretation of the country's pacifist constitution, making it harder in the future to verify how the change took place.

Tokyo's Cabinet Legislation Bureau said Monday the dialogue that was held before July 1, 2014, was not on record, Kyodo News reported. Instead, on June 30, 2014, the day prior to the Cabinet's reinterpretation, the bureau told Japan's National Security Council that it had "no comment" on the constitution's reinterpretation.

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The bureau is responsible for producing explicit records of legal screenings, the Mainichi Shimbun reported. The lack of documentation on a historic decision has drawn criticism from analysts including Shinichi Nishikawa, professor of politics at Meiji University, who said he is "appalled" at the absence of records.

"Administrative bodies must leave records. Without records, how could the public as well as experts examine the process in the future?" Nishikawa said.

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The reinterpretation became official on Sept. 19 when Japan's parliament ratified security bills that would allow the country's military to fight in overseas missions, a historic change after the decades of pacifism that followed the end of World War II.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promoted the legislation. Opponents of the bill, however, say the law would lead to unwanted Japanese involvement in U.S.-led conflicts around the world.

Tokyo retains few public documents regarding the Cabinet decision in July 2014: Records from an advisory panel of security experts for Abe, meetings of the ruling parties and a draft of the Cabinet decision are the only files available, according to sources.

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The Cabinet Legislation Bureau plays the role of applying a brake on government decisions, but Nishikawa said the agency has "apparently lost that function."

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