Less Diet showings by ministers eyed

JIJI

The Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito coalition government may cut the frequency of Diet appearances by the prime minister and Cabinet ministers, sources said.

The ruling bloc hopes the reduction will enable Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to spend more time on diplomatic activities, the sources said.

The ruling alliance plans to ask opposition parties to cooperate on reviewing parliamentary rules after the House of Councilors election on July 21 to achieve the reduction.

The government will also consider making legal revisions during an extraordinary Diet session expected this fall, the sources said.

Possible options include introducing a limit for parliamentary attendance by the prime minister and Cabinet ministers and increasing the attendance of senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

Opposition parties are all but certain to resist the move. Article 63 of the Constitution obliges the prime minister and Cabinet ministers to appear before the Diet to face questions if asked to do so.

The ruling bloc may seek support from Nippon Ishin No Kai (Japan Restoration Party). The opposition party called for a cut in the frequency of the prime minister’s parliamentary attendance in its campaign platform for the Upper House election.