Opposition camp turns down proposal to extend Diet again

by and

The opposition parties rejected a ruling bloc proposal Thursday to keep the Diet open for another month in a symbolic gesture reflecting its resolve to block a new antiterrorism bill coveted by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

The gesture does not matter to the ruling bloc because Diet Law stipulates that a Lower House decision automatically prevails over an Upper House decision on whether to extend a Diet session.

The Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc has a solid majority in the stronger lower chamber, but the upper chamber is controlled by the opposition, which is led by the Democratic Party of Japan.

The opposition camp made its decision Thursday afternoon at a six-way meeting of secretaries general in which the ruling bloc proposed extending the extraordinary Diet session again until Jan. 15.

The session has already been extended once and legally can only be extended one more time.

After the six-party meeting, LDP Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki and New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa asked the Lower House speaker and Upper House president to extend the session.

The proposal is expected to be approved Friday at a plenary session of the Lower House.

“The antiterrorism bill is necessary for international cooperation,” Ibuki said after the meeting, saying Japan’s livelihood hinges on foreign trade and financial business based on such international cooperation.

DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama criticized the ruling bloc for not holding the extraordinary session until September, well after the DPJ’s decisive victory in the Upper House election in July divided the Diet. The antiterrorism bill is before the Upper House for deliberations, but the DPJ-led opposition is refusing to pass it.