Opposition wants extraordinary Diet session held

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Opposition leaders agreed Wednesday to jointly submit a petition to House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono the following day, calling for an extraordinary Diet session to be convened by the end of the month.

“We’ll demand the Diet session be convened as early as possible to deal with a number of pressing political issues,” Tatsuo Kawabata, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, told a news conference.

Kawabata said the Diet must be convened before Oct. 1, when the controversial government-sponsored pension reform legislation takes effect.

The reform is designed to increase premiums while cutting benefits over a number of years.

He said the Diet must also tackle other urgent issues, including the recent crash of a U.S. military helicopter, U.S. bases in Okinawa and a political donation scandal involving the Japan Dental Association and the Liberal Democratic Party.

DPJ Diet affairs chief Yoshio Hachiro criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who is currently in South America attending to such issues as signing a free-trade agreement with Mexico, for trying to avoid dealing with the issues by going abroad.

Japan Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii said he would grill the Koizumi administration for supporting the U.S.-led “unlawful and unjustifiable war” in Iraq and the dentists’ association donation scandal.