A citizens’ group pushing for new legislation to provide financial assistance to survivors of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake on April 15 called on the Liberal Democratic Party to submit the party’s bill to the Diet, rather than negotiate behind closed doors.

Makoto Oda, a representative of the group, which is based in Hyogo Prefecture, told reporters that it met Tuesday with Masakuni Murakami, the LDP leader of the Upper House, and demanded that the party make public its bill in order to allow it to be discussed openly. “We are terribly concerned about the possibility that the new legislation will be coined as the result of undemocratic negotiations among lawmakers,” Oda told a news conference at the Upper House.

The Upper House Special Committee on Disaster Relief has begun discussions on two bills that aim to provide financial aid to those whose homes were destroyed in the quake. One of the bills, jointly submitted by the citizens’ group and some lawmakers, aims to provide financial support to survivors of the Hanshin quake and future natural disasters. The other bill, submitted by lawmakers from the opposition camp, covers only compensation for damages caused by the Hanshin quake.

The LDP, meanwhile, has drafted its own bill as a counterproposal, stating that aid would be provided only to victims of future disasters, excluding those affected by the 1995 quake. The government has expressed a negative stance toward legislation that would apply retroactively to survivors of past disasters.

A total of 17,069 citizens nationwide have sent messages to the group to support its bill, he said. Stressing the need to consider the bills quickly, Oda said time may run out before the new legislation can be passed by the end of the current Diet session in June.

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