Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda ran into a brick wall Tuesday after asking the opposition to support a special antiterrorism bill that would let the Maritime Self-Defense Force resume its mission providing fuel and water to multinational naval ships in the Indian Ocean.
With only 11 days left before the end of the extraordinary Diet session, both the ruling and opposition camps began deliberating the bill in earnest at an Upper House panel. But Democratic Party of Japan members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee refused to budge on Fukuda’s request.
They also demanded that the government put priority on “squeezing the pus out of the scandal-tainted Defense Ministry.”
DPJ lawmaker Shinkun Haku criticized the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition for submitting the bill in mid-October when it knew the SDF mission would end Nov. 1 and subsequently blaming the opposition parties for delaying the deliberations.
Fukuda replied humbly: “I would really appreciate if the committee would deliberate this bill carefully and swiftly and come to a conclusion by Dec. 15. There’s still time until Dec. 15. I would be grateful if you would deliberate on this every day until then.”
Fukuda also expressed regret over the ongoing Defense Ministry scandal and emphasized that a panel was set up in the Cabinet on Monday to address the matter.
The antiterrorism bill cleared the ruling coalition-controlled House of Representatives on Nov. 13 and was sent immediately to the House of Councilors.
But the DPJ-led opposition camp, which controls the Upper House, insisted that priority be put on resolving the defense scandals.
As part of the process, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee summoned former Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya to give testimony on Nov. 16.
Under oath, Moriya testified that he remembered former defense chiefs Fumio Kyuma and Fukushiro Nukaga as being among those wined and dined by arrested defense equipment trader Motonobu Miyazaki.