DPJ submits human rights panel bill

Kyodo

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has submitted a bill to the Diet aimed at establishing a human rights commission under the Justice Ministry, according to government officials.

Political sources said that, given the ongoing stalemate between the ruling and opposition camps over when to dissolve the Lower House for an election, the Diet appears unlikely to pass the legislation during the current extraordinary session that runs through Nov. 30.

Nonetheless, Justice Minister Makoto Taki said at a news conference Friday that he will do his utmost to launch deliberations during the current session on the bill, which would establish the commission as an independent body to assist victims of human rights infringements.

The body would have the power to file criminal complaints with law enforcement authorities or mediators if investigations by the ministry’s regional legal affairs bureaus uncover human rights violations.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet endorsed the bill in September, but the prospect of Diet deliberations remains bleak due to the rift between the DPJ and opposition camp.

The leading opposition force, the Liberal Democratic Party, is trying to pressure Noda into dissolving the Lower House for a snap election this year. Despite promising to do so “sometime soon” in talks with opposition leaders in August in exchange for their help to pass the sales tax hike bill, Noda has yet to state the exact timing.