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JapanNews/2017/6/19 20:10

Only pursuing scandals in latest Diet session is highly unsatisfactory

Although there have been achievements regarding the passage of some important pieces of legislation, it was unsatisfactory that only the pursuit of scandals stood out.
The ordinary Diet session has closed. Regarding the special measures law to realize the Emperor’s abdication, the distance between the positions of the ruling camp and the opposition bloc was initially wide, with the ruling camp insisting that abdication be only applied to the current Emperor and the opposition seeking a permanent, institutionalized system.
It can be highly regarded that the ruling and opposition parties came to compromises, summarized the views of the Die and smoothly established the special measures law.
This was probably because the Emperor’s feelings were taken seriously and a common view was fostered to avoid political conflict.
In contrast, the ruling and opposition parties clashed fiercely during deliberations on the bill to revise the Law on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds, which is mainly intended to criminalize the planning and preparations to commit such crimes as terrorist attacks.
Three previous bills to establish a provision that would regard “conspiracy as a crime” were killed. The hurdles for the revised bill were initially high. The fears of the public were softened through reasonable changes to the bill, such as limiting the subjects to which it can be applied to organized crime groups and also adding preparatory acts to the statutory requirements.
It was appropriate that the government and ruling parties steadily sought passage of the bill during the latest Diet session to strengthen counterterrorism measures toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
It was unfortunate that, midway through the session, opposition parties became preoccupied with pursuing issues regarding school corporations — the Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution. In both cases, the focus was on whether inappropriate administrative measures were taken to favor the corporations’ heads, who are close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe or his wife, Akie.

Reexamine leaders’ debates
The opposition camp must have thought there was good material to deal a blow to the Abe administration, under the current ruling Liberal Democratic Party structure, in which Abe reigns as the predominant force within the party.
As a result, important discussions such as on realizing economic growth and fiscal reconstruction in a balanced manner, and on North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, have receded into the background. Although this is mainly the responsibility of the opposition parties, it cannot be said that the government and ruling parties played a sufficient role.
The government was stubborn in continuing to refuse to reinvestigate internal documents of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry. The government’s attitude should be to give humble and thorough explanations regarding doubts and suspicions, without being evasive.
Although discussions by the commissions on the Constitution in both the House of Representatives and House of Councillors have stagnated, it was significant that Abe proposed stipulating the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 of the Constitution, vitalizing discussions on the top law.
For the first time since its establishment in 2007, the upper house’s Commission on the Constitution did not hold even a single meeting during an ordinary Diet session. The Commission on the Constitution in the lower house only held free discussions and took questions from unsworn witnesses. Discussions to narrow down the specific items of the Constitution subject to amendment have not progressed.
The LDP will step up its work to compile its draft revisions, including on Article 9. Other parties will also need to speed up internal discussions so they will be able to present counterproposals.
Debates between the prime minister and the heads of other parties were not held even once during the latest Diet session. It is necessary to reexamine how leadership debates are held, such as the way they are arranged and how time is allocated.




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