National / Politics

Opposition contests chaotic Upper House vote, assails LDP for amending record of events

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Was the vote valid?

The chairman’s voice was lost amid yelling by opposition lawmakers as he declared the passage of controversial security bills through the Upper House in a special committee session last month.

And the shouting is still ongoing, as the opposition camp accuses the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of tweaking the official Diet minutes to make the chaotic voting process seem like an orderly decision.

The Upper House released official records of the voting on Sept. 17, where the chairman’s declaration of the passage of the legislation was drowned out by the noise of lawmakers shouting and manhandling each other.

The minutes of the committee, released on the Upper House website Sunday, show that even stenographers were unable to hear what chairman Yoshitada Konoike was saying. The document only says in brackets: “(Many speak. Chamber in turmoil. Unable to hear).”

Given that the minutes lack the chairman’s declaration of the bills’ passage, the Upper House office added an explanation that the committee “made a decision to pass the bills” after question-and-answer sessions. The addition was made at Konoike’s instruction, according to the office.

The opposition camp has criticized the ruling camp for adding such explanations to the Diet record without its consent.

“I cannot approve of the ruling camp taking such an action on its own,” Democratic Party of Japan policy chief Goshi Hosono said Tuesday.

The addition of explanations to committee minutes is legitimate under regulations governing the Upper House, according to the office.

Similar explanations were added to Diet records in the past, most recently in 2013 when the ruling camp rammed a contentious state secrecy bill through an Upper House special committee.

It is not the first controversy to erupt over events of that day. Opposition lawmakers called the voting invalid because they could not hear what the chairman was saying — and had no clue what was going on.

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