Aso: Extra budget is for next Diet

by Masami Ito

The government will put off submitting a second supplementary budget designed to stimulate the economy until January, when the ordinary Diet session assembles, rather than float it during the current extraordinary session, Prime Minister Taro Aso revealed Tuesday.

The government “would like to submit a second extra budget to the Diet early in the new year,” Aso said. “We are currently not in a situation to be able to quickly put together the supplemental budget.”

He said details of the extra budget, which would finance the government’s proposed ¥2 trillion cash handout program, will likely be finalized around Dec. 20.

The postponement drew strong criticism from the Democratic Party of Japan, which has demanded that Aso submit the supplementary budget during the current session, scheduled to end Sunday.

DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said the prime minister is betraying the public by delaying the bill. Aso revealed his emergency economic measures a month ago while also announcing his intention to postpone calling a Lower House election.

“I don’t think Aso had any intention of submitting the extra budget during the extraordinary Diet session — he unveiled economic measures while deceiving the public,” Hatoyama said.

Submitting the second extra budget “was a promise Aso made to the public. It’s not about the DPJ vs. the Liberal Democratic Party, it is about keeping his promise to the public,” he said.

Hatoyama added that if Aso won’t submit the supplementary budget, the DPJ is thinking of drafting its own bill on economic measures.

On Tuesday evening, the two parties agreed to hold a “question time” session Friday, when DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa is expected to question the prime minister.

In a meeting with Aso last week, Ozawa said that if the budget is not submitted this session, the DPJ won’t vote on two key bills now in the opposition-controlled Upper House.

They are the special antiterrorism bill to enable the Maritime Self-Defense Force to continue its refueling activities in the Indian Ocean, and the bill to allow the government to inject public funds into financial institutions to boost their capital bases.