Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda on Friday expressed the government’s intention to extend the current Diet session to ensure passage of flagship bills, including those related to emergency defense legislation.

The top government spokesman, however, did not elaborate on how long the extension would be. The session is scheduled to end June 19.

“We must have the major bills approved. So if we don’t get to see them approved (because of the lack of time), we will be in trouble,” Fukuda told a regular news conference at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence. “We need time to thoroughly deliberate on them.”

Fukuda’s comment came a day after the ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party, abandoned its original plan to hold public hearings Friday and next week on the proposed emergency defense legislation.

The decision was made after the opposition stepped up its protest against the ruling coalition’s handling of the issue, further delaying the legislation’s progress.

The opposition continues to maintain that more time is necessary to discuss the bills.

With the ruling coalition’s decision to delay the hearings, Diet deliberations that were boycotted by the opposition camp Thursday and Friday are likely to be normalized starting Monday.

Public hearings are normally held before the Diet votes on bills. It is widely believed that once public hearings are set up, the voting will soon follow.

Besides the planned defense legislation, the Koizumi administration aims to get other major bills approved before the current session ends, including a bill to reform the public health insurance system, a bill to allow private carriers to operate alongside the government-run postal service, a proposed law to establish the rules on the use of personal data by the public and private sectors, and legislation aimed at protecting privacy.

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