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Diet deliberations to resume after resolution of Akira Amari policy speech deadlock

by

Staff Writer

Opposition and ruling-party lawmakers overcame a deadlock Monday by agreeing to resume Diet deliberations, which had ground to a halt when Akira Amari quit his Cabinet post last week over a graft scandal.

The Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition, after talks with the opposition parties, agreed to the latter’s demand that newly appointed economic minister Nobuteru Ishihara deliver a policy speech.

“Given the current economic uncertainty worldwide, we decided that it’s necessary to start the Lower House Budget Committee as soon as possible,” LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki told reporters after a meeting with his opposition counterparts.

Opposition lawmakers had argued the policy speech delivered by Amari on Jan. 22, which they boycotted, was no longer valid in the wake of his resignation last Thursday amid graft allegations.

The opposition had refused to allow the Lower House Budget Committee to convene unless Ishihara gave his own policy speech.

The LDP had rejected the request, arguing Amari’s speech remained valid regardless of who delivered it. In light of the new agreement, Ishihara is expected to deliver his speech Tuesday.

The graft scandal has died down since Amari, a close ally of Abe, stepped down over alleged financial impropriety committed by his secretaries. Amari denied any personal wrongdoing.

DPJ lawmakers, however, said his resignation does not put an end to the scandal and vowed to pursue the matter.

“We want him to attend the upcoming budget committee sessions (as an unsworn witness) and further explain himself,” DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano said.