Assuming the desirability of actual revision (If the opposition is annihilated and the constitution changed, who then can be blamed for continued failure and drift?) is such an outcome even technically possible? Do the forces for revision have the technical means of achieving their seat targets -- i.e. do the parties in favor of revision have enough candidates in the right places?
First, how many seats do they need? Mathematically, 2/3 of 242 is 161.333…. Ostensibly, the three parties would have to end up with 162 seats.
However, the Speaker of the House and Deputy Speaker, who are selected from the two largest caucuses, are under extreme pressure to behave in a non-partisan fashion. Symbolically, they take leave from their party membership during their terms in office. The Speaker in particularly would almost certainly abstain from a constitutional vote.
[Sorry MTC - but that the Speaker of the House would abstain would increase, not decrease the number of seats needed. The constitutional requirement is 2/3rds of the members of a House, not 2/3rds of those present at the vote. 162 is the number and will always be the number, at least until such time as the number of seats in the House of Councillors gets changed - Ed.]
So the actual number of seats the parties must have is
The three major parties on record in favor of revising the Constitution are the JRP, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Your Party. They currently hold seats 61 not up for reelection this cycle:
Seats Not Up For Election: District
Seats Not Up For Election: Proportional
LDP 12So in this cycle the three parties need to win
In the raw numbers, the three parties have sufficient candidates -- 78 for the LDP, 44 for the JRP and 34 for the Your Party.
Candidates For Seats Up For Election: District
Seats Not Up For Election: Proportional
However, are these candidates dispersed in meaningful or effective way?
To simplify matters, let us assume that all of the district candidates of the LDP all win election. T'is not an unreasonable assumption, in light of the election of all the LDP candidates in last month's Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. The assumption of dominance glosses over the potential for bastions -- where particular opposition parties cannot lose due to long time support of particular political families. However, given the the overwhelming national support (>40% in most polls) for the LDP, the viability of any of these bastions is called into question. Furthermore, since we are calculating the total number of seats in favor of constitutional revision, if the winner is the JRP or Your Party candidate then the LDP loss is irrelevant to the total.
So after all the LDP district candidates win, how many district seats are left?
Normally, one would say 24 (73 totals seats - 49 LDP wins = 24). However, the LDP's coalition partner, the New Komeito, which is chary of constitutional revision, is running candidates in 4 multi-seat prefectures: Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Osaka. These candidates will win handily, meaning there are 20 open seats for opposition parties, in the following distribution:
Now here is that same list, with competition between the candidates running on pro-revision JRP and Your Party tickets and the anti-revision Democratic Party of Japan ticket.
Hokkaido 1 (YP, DPJ)
Miyagi 1 (YP, DPJ)
Ibaraki 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Saitama 1 (YP, DPJ)
Chiba 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Tokyo 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Kanagawa 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Niigata 1 (JRP, DPJ)
Nagano 1 (YP,DPJ)
Shizuoka 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Aichi 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Kyoto 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Osaka 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Hyogo 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Hiroshima 1 (JRP, DPJ)
Fukuoka 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Your Party leader Watanabe Yoshimi made a great show of breaking off election cooperation with the JRP after JRP co-leader Hashimoto Toru's idiotic remarks as regards the sex slaves of the Imperial era and the need for U.S. Marines to frequent Okinawan sexual services establishments. However, despite the acrimonious breakup the two parties largely do not work at cross purposes in eastern Japan, which is Watanabe's region. They do get in each other's way a lot though, in western Japan. The three parties are locked in a death struggle in over a single seat in Chiba, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures.
The DPJ, despite its severely weakened state, will win a few of these remaining district seats. The Japan Communist Party has also a decent chance, given its strong showing in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections, to win a seat in Tokyo. A tiny number might go to independents and other parties.
If the DPJ can win 5 of the 20 seats and the Communists, other parties and independents win 2, the opposition forces in favor of revision walk away with 13 district seats. When added to the 49 wins by the LDP, the running total is 62.
Which means the LDP, the JRP and Your Party have to win
How realistic is
(to be continued)