National / Politics

Ruling bloc says extraordinary Diet session to kick off Sept. 28

JIJI

The government and Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition have agreed to convene an extraordinary session of the Diet on Sept. 28 and have conveyed the plan to the opposition side, according to informed sources.

A package of bills related to work-life reforms, including one aimed at rectifying long working hours, are expected to be a key issue during the upcoming session, the sources said Friday.

Opposition parties are expected to continue piling pressure on the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over an alleged favoritism scandal, the sources said.

Abe has been battling the allegations, which involve a plan by school operator Kake Gakuen to launch a veterinary medicine department at Okayama University of Science in a special deregulation zone in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture.

Kake Gakuen is led by Kotaro Kake, a close friend of the prime minister’s.

Heated debates are expected between the ruling and opposition camps ahead of the triple by-elections for the Lower House on Oct. 22, observers said.

At the start of the extraordinary session, the Diet is also set to adopt resolutions condemning North Korea, which lobbed an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on Aug. 29 and another early Friday.

The two launches came after its two test-firings of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking much of the United States in July and its sixth nuclear test — which it claimed was of a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded onto an ICBM — on Sept. 3.

At a Friday meeting of the secretaries-general and Diet affairs chiefs from the LDP, coalition partner Komeito and opposition parties, Toshihiro Nikai, LDP secretary-general, discussed the plan to open the extra Diet session on Sept. 28.

The opposition side accepted the ruling camp’s proposal but noted that the session should be convened earlier.

Initially, the government and the ruling parties considered kicking off the session on Sept. 25. However, this schedule was delayed, taking into account Abe’s trip to New York next week to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

The ruling coalition is considering having the extraordinary session run through early December.

On the opening day of the session, Abe will deliver a policy speech, with subsequent question-and-answer sessions seen taking place between Oct. 2-4, sources said.

Besides the work-life reform-related bills, the session is expected to focus on a bill tackling gambling addiction ahead of the possible future launches of integrated casino resorts, as well as legislation that would amend the health promotion law and reinforce steps against passive smoking, the sources said.

At Friday’s meeting, the ruling party and opposition officials confirmed that the Lower House will adopt a resolution denouncing North Korea at a plenary meeting at the beginning of the extraordinary session. They also agreed that executives from the Lower House’s Security Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday from state ministers of foreign affairs and defense about Pyongyang’s ballistic missile technologies.

The Upper House is also expected to take similar steps, the sources added.

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