Ruling, opposition parties agree to normalize Diet business

The ruling and opposition camps agreed Tuesday to normalize Diet business, which had ground to a halt after the government’s pension reform bills were rammed through the legislature last weekend.

The Diet affairs chiefs of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan met and agreed to resume business in the House of Representatives. Later in the day, the House of Representatives approved three welfare-related bills and sent them to the upper chamber.

Leaders of the two camps also met to return proceedings in the House of Councilors to normal.

Both chambers of the Diet were quiet Monday as the DPJ and the Social Democratic Party refused to attend committee sessions to protest the coalition’s move to push the pension reform legislation through the Upper House on Saturday in their absence.

The two sides agreed at Tuesday’s meeting that the opposition be given additional time for questions and answers on child-welfare and other bills in the Health, Labor and Welfare Committee of the Lower House, participants said.

They also agreed that Seiichi Eto, the committee’s chairman, will explain why the panel approved the bills last Thursday, when there was still time left for opposition lawmakers to file questions.

Three Upper House committee sessions planned for Tuesday morning were canceled, but the ruling camp decided not to submit a no-confidence motion against the chamber’s vice president, Shoji Motooka.

Motooka, originally a DPJ member, declared Saturday an Upper House plenary session adjourned, in what political pundits said was an opposition attempt to block the enactment of the pension legislation.

The DPJ and SDP members then left the chamber.