Consumer affairs agency bills OK’d

Kyodo News

Bills to form a new government agency to deal with consumer affairs cleared a House of Representatives committee Thursday with a unanimous vote, paving the way for the body to be set up as early as this fall.

The Lower House is expected to pass the bills at a plenary session Friday and send them to the opposition-controlled House of Councilors.

The plan was initiated by Prime Minister Taro Aso’s predecessor, Yasuo Fukuda, in January 2008 amid a spate of food-labeling scandals and related incidents that seriously undermined public confidence in food safety, including a food poisoning case involving China-made frozen dumplings.

The bills were submitted to the Diet last September, but deliberations had been suspended until recently due to fierce wrangling between the ruling and opposition camps.

They are likely to be enacted during the ongoing Diet session ending June 3, as the Democratic Party of Japan has made concessions.