Opposition now to drag feet on MSDF bill

by Kazuaki Nagata

In an apparent change of tactics, three opposition parties agreed Thursday to allow for more time to deliberate on the antiterrorism bill in the Upper House as they draft their own response to the global financial turmoil.

That hope would significantly disrupt the ruling bloc’s current agenda, which includes getting the bill through the Lower House by the end of the month and setting the timing for a snap election.

“We won’t extend the debates on the bill on purpose, but having earnest debate is necessary for the public,” Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said after meeting with his counterparts, Yasumasa Shigeno of the Social Democratic Party and Hisaoki Kamei of Kokumin Shinto (New People’s Party).

The DPJ initially said it would kill the bill next Wednesday to hasten the process of extending the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean. This is because a veto in the upper chamber, which is now controlled by the opposition, can be overridden by the Lower House, which is controlled by the ruling bloc.

The DPJ’s initial tactic was based on the assumption that Aso would quickly call a snap election. But since Aso has not yet dissolved the Lower House — partly because of the growing need to deal with the economy and because of his dwindling public support — the opposition camp appears to be taking a different approach.

“The worldwide financial crisis may affect the real Japanese economy,” Hatoyama said of Japan’s darkening situation.

“While people are anxious about it, it seems it will take more time for the ruling coalition to come up with something.