ASAO Keiichirō, YAMAMOTO Ichita


Keiichirō Asao (Democratic Party of Japan, DPJ) and Ichita Yamamoto (Liberal Democratic Party, LDP), two young members of the House of Councillors co-authored an article about constitutional revision that they submitted to the January 2001 edition of the magazine Chūō Kōron (Central Review).

In 1995, Asao resigned from his job at the Industrial Bank of Japan and entered the world of politics by running as a candidate for the New Frontier Party (新進党). In 1994, the New Frontier Party, an anti-LDP/anti-communist political party was established in response to Tomiichi Murayama’s coalition cabinet consisting of the LDP, the Socialist Party, and the New Party Sakigake (新党さきがけ). The party was disbanded in 1997. In 1998, Asao joined the DJP and was elected for the first in the House of Councillors election during that same year. 

After Yamamoto’s father, Yamamoto Tomio—who had served as Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and the LDP's secretary-general for Upper House lawmakers—passed away in 1995, Yamamoto Ichita inherited the electoral base of his father and was elected for the first time as a member of the House of Councillors.   
The main proposal in this article on constitution revision is a system of a direct election of the Prime Minister which involves a plebiscite to designate the prime minister. Asao and Yamamoto expected that the direct election of the Prime Minister would result in politicians paying more attention to gaining the support of the people, and this in turn would fix many of Japan’s political problems. They both argued that if politicians made decisions in order to gain the support and trust of the people, then the problems of faction-based politics, Diet members showing favoritism towards their hometowns, and strong ties to the world of politics would be resolved. In addition, they believed that these changes would accelerate structural reform.  

Asao eventually joined the Your Party (みんなの党) and later the LDP. During that time, he participated in the Association for an Autonomous Constitution (自主憲法研究会) founded by Shintarō Ishihara and Takeo Hiranuma. He lost his seat in the 2017 general election. In 2019, Yamamoto left the LDP and ran for the prefectural governor of Gunma Prefecture as an independent. He was elected and became the prefectural governor.