Confrontation between the ruling and opposition camps continued at the Diet on Monday, with a mediation proposal offered by the president of the House of Councilors earlier in the day snubbed by both sides.
The opposition’s boycott of all Diet deliberations entered its third week as both sides again failed to find middle ground over the ruling coalition’s contentious plan to revise the roster system for the proportional representation segment of Upper House elections.
The revisions were approved by an Upper House committee last week, with the ruling bloc majority voting in favor of the bill despite the absence of opposition lawmakers.
On Monday, Upper House President Juro Saito proposed a mediation plan that addressed claims from both sides — only to invite criticism from all parties that drawing up the proposal was beyond the president’s jurisdiction.
The parties are to respond to the proposal today, but Diet sources said it is unlikely either camp will embrace it.
Friday’s railroading of the bill by the tripartite ruling coalition — the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — has only served to make the swift normalization of Diet affairs ever more elusive.
The triumvirate-backed bill would revise the Upper House electoral system so that ballots can be cast either for candidates on party rosters or for the parties themselves. The current system allows ballots to be cast only for parties.
The system proposed by the coalition would allocate seats to parties based on the number of votes they or their candidates receive. The parties would then assign seats to candidates in accordance with their performances.
The opposition claims the changes will make campaigning in elections more costly and encourage popularity votes.
Saito’s proposal on Monday is intended to adopt portions of both the proposed and current systems. It would elect half the number of lawmakers in the proportional representation part of an Upper House election under the ruling party-proposed new system, while the other half would be elected in the current manner.
Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, said later in the day that he would “laugh off” Saito’s proposal as it will not solve the fundamental problems the largest opposition party has been raising.
As for the president, both the ruling and opposition camps said the president should only be trying to provide opportunities for both sides to talk, instead of proposing new “content” for a bill on his or her own.
The five major opposition forces, led by the DPJ, said they would officially express their objection to the mediation plan today when their representatives meet the president and their counterparts from the ruling bloc in an afternoon meeting.
The ruling triumvirate is also expected to reject the mediation plan, claiming that there has been no fault on their part in dealing with the electoral reform bill.
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