With passage of the government’s national security bills through the Lower House coming into sight, deliberations on counterproposals submitted by the two largest opposition parties kicked off Friday at a special Lower House committee, in parallel with the state-sponsored legislation.
Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party of Japan have demanded the ruling camp provide sufficient time to discuss their bills alongside the government’s legislation in the committee. But the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito plan to ram the state-sponsored bills through the Lower House as early as July 16.
The three alternative bills — two submitted by Ishin and one jointly by Ishin and the DPJ — impose tougher conditions on the use of force by the Self-Defense Forces in certain situations. Unlike the government’s bills that would remove geographical limits for the SDF to provide logistical support to foreign forces, Ishin’s bills limits such mission to take place only in “areas around Japan.”
The two opposition parties are set to oppose any move by the LDP-Komeito ruling bloc to table a vote on the security reforms next week in the Lower House. If they force the bills through the chamber, the public support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could decline further.
A series of events are lined up this summer for Abe that could draw criticism, including the planned restart of a reactor at Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in mid-August and a statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Against that backdrop, the prime minister wants to avoid ramming the security bills through the Lower House. However, he may have no choice but to do so in order to secure enough time to enact them by the end of current Diet session through Sept. 27, even if they lie idle in the Upper House.
Under Diet rules, if the Upper House fails to vote on a bill within 60 days of its passage by the lower chamber, the bill can be sent back to the Lower House. It can be enacted there if more than two-thirds of attending members of the lower chamber agree. The ruling bloc currently controls more than two-thirds of the Lower House.
July 24 is the effective deadline to pass the bills through the Lower House in order to use the “60-day rule.”
During Friday’s Diet session, a DPJ member urged Abe to postpone the ruling camp’s plan to vote next week, stressing that many members of the public feel the bills require further explanation as to why they are needed. In response, Abe said simply that he wants to pass the bills “in due time.”
Abe also said the discussion over the bills from Ishin and the DPJ had already deepened considerably in Friday’s session.
Ishin and the ruling bloc held talks on Thursday to see whether the state-sponsored bills could be amended to incorporate some of Ishin’s ideas, but the talks went nowhere. There were “clear differences” between the two sets of legislation, according to LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.