As the prospect of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolving the Lower House draws closer, the chances of his administration’s key bills passing the current Diet session appear increasingly slim.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling camp ally, Komeito, have effectively given up the enactment of a key bill to promote the status of women that would back up Abe’s much touted policy to create a society in which “every woman can shine.” And a bill to revise the worker dispatch law, which would remove the three-year limit on employment of temp workers on the same job, is also expected to be scrapped.
The only major legislation now likely to pass the Diet are two bills to revitalize rural economies. The ruling parties agreed Wednesday to redouble efforts to pass these bills, with the aim of enacting them as early as Wednesday, the earliest date Abe is rumored to be considering for a dissolution of the chamber.
The enactment of the bills, which call for local governmental cooperation in compiling economic strategies and outline basic principles of the revitalization, are widely considered minimum criteria for the ruling coalition to garner support from the general public before a possible snap election as well as local elections scheduled nationwide for next April.
The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan welcomed the abandonment of the bill to revise the worker dispatch law, which it has strongly criticized, saying it would only increase the ranks of temp staff who are paid less than regular employees and have little in the way of job security. But the DPJ slammed Abe’s move to dissolve the Lower House while deliberation on many of the key bills has not been carried out to the fullest extent.
“If what the media has reported (about the dissolution) is true, it means Abe will voluntarily throw out the bills that he has proposed to pass the current extraordinary Diet session,” DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano said Thursday. “It’s clear who is disregarding the policy debate and abandoning the people’s living.”
After facing opposition from members of Komeito, the LDP also dropped plans to enact a bill during the current Diet session to legalize casinos, a move seen as a way of boosting tourism. The delay will make it increasingly difficult to achieve Abe’s plan of building the nation’s first casinos in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Meanwhile, the opposition camp said it will support bills that have a major impact on society, such as one enacted Friday to revise the infectious disease law, which will allow the compulsory collection of blood samples from patients with infectious diseases including Ebola. Another bill to ban the production and sale of quasi-legal drugs is slated to pass the Diet next Wednesday.
The Diet is also expected to pass a bill increasing the maximum fine for foreign fishing crews found poaching within Japanese territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone. The lawmaker-initiated bill was drafted in light of the recent alarming increase in the number of foreign boats, suspected of coming mostly from China, poaching coral around the Ogasawara and Izu island chains in the Pacific, south of Tokyo.
The bill would raise the maximum fine to ¥30 million for fishing crews caught poaching.