The ruling and opposition parties officially agreed Thursday to vote on an opposition-sponsored motion demanding the resignation of arrested lawmaker Muneo Suzuki.
The vote was to take place at a Lower House plenary session Friday.
Suzuki, a House of Representatives member from Hokkaido, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of accepting a bribe of 5 million yen from a logging firm in Hokkaido in 1998 in return for pressuring the Forestry Agency to treat it favorably.
The vote on calling for the lawmaker’s resignation is the first to take place in the House of Representatives. The nonbinding motion is expected to be approved by the chamber because the ruling camp, including the Liberal Democratic Party to which Suzuki used to belong, plans to support it.
When the House of Councilors voted on a similar motion in 1997 demanding the resignation of Tatsuo Tomobe, a former Upper House lawmaker convicted of fraud, the chamber took a standing vote.
However, negotiations were still ongoing as of Thursday evening on whether to have an open ballot, in which lawmakers’ votes would be clarified. If the voting is conducted in the manner, it is expected to be a loyalty test for LDP members who were close to Suzuki.
LDP members were opposed to the open voting style, calling instead for a more simplified method in which Diet members express support for the motion in a voice vote.
Earlier in the day, the opposition parties effectively agreed to resume Diet deliberations after the ruling bloc offered to hold a special session to discuss the alleged coverup of the collection of irrelevant personal information by the Defense Agency.
The opposition parties began their boycott of Diet deliberations last week following the revelation that ruling bloc members attempted to withhold a full report on the information disclosure scandal. They further stiffened their attitude when the ruling camp bulldozed a package of medical reform bills through the health committee.
During a meeting of secretaries general of the ruling and opposition parties, LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki expressed regret over the government’s failure to disclose in full the report on the information disclosure scandal.
The ruling camp had reportedly “offered its opinion” to the Defense Agency to withhold its full in-house report on how the agency compiled private data.
During the meeting, the ruling camp sought the opposition parties’ agreement on putting a package of medical reform bills to a vote during the Lower House plenary session Friday.
The package of bills was rammed through the Lower House Health and Welfare Committee last week by the ruling coalition parties.
The ruling parties also said the opposition parties would be allowed to ask further questions on the bills in the same committee Friday morning before the plenary session voting.
The pending bills were expected to be passed at Friday’s plenary session by the majority support of the ruling coalition.
The Democratic Party of Japan agreed to attend the voting, but it plans to vote against the bills.
The Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party turned it down, saying the ruling bloc should annul last week’s vote. However, the three parties are expected to end their boycott and return to Diet proceedings next week.
Also on Thursday, a motion demanding the resignation of health committee Chairman Eisuke Mori, submitted by the DPJ, was rejected in the Lower House plenary session.
The DPJ submitted the motion criticizing Mori for allowing the “outrageous act” of putting the bills to a vote last week. The Liberal Party, the SDP and the JCP skipped the vote.
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