National / Politics

Current Diet session to be extended until July 22

Kyodo

The nation’s ruling parties agreed Wednesday to extend the ongoing ordinary Diet session until July 22 in an attempt to ensure the passage of key legislative measures.

The extension of 32 days was agreed to during a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party, and Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief of the ruling party’s junior coalition partner Komeito, lawmakers said.

If extended, it will be the first time since 2015, when lawmakers were debating controversial security legislation that was subsequently enacted to expand the role of the Self-Defense Forces overseas.

The extension was passed Wednesday afternoon by the more powerful Lower House, which is controlled by the ruling coalition.

By prolonging the current 150-day session beyond its final day on Wednesday, the ruling coalition is hoping to secure the passage of bills regarded as important, including one that will authorize the opening of casinos.

Ahead of the House of Representatives vote, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and five other opposition parties agreed to oppose the extension.

In addition to the so-called casino legislation, which cleared the Lower House on Tuesday, Abe views a bill on labor reform aimed at tackling the culture of overwork as another important agenda item in the current session.

Opposition lawmakers, who plan to step up their offensive against the ruling parties in the event of an extension, claim the planned reform would lead to an increase in the number of cases of karōshi, or death by overwork.

Under the scheme, high-earning, skilled professional workers will be exempted from regulation on working hours.

During the extended session, the ruling coalition also aims to clear a bill revising the public office election law, which will add six seats to the 242-seat Upper House to reduce disparities in the weighting of votes ahead of the next election in the summer of 2019.