National / Politics

Japan's Diet to convene extraordinary session on Oct. 4

Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report

The government and ruling coalition plan to convene an extraordinary Diet session on Oct. 4, senior ruling party lawmakers said Wednesday.

The Liberal Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and its junior partner, Komeito, are expected to clash with the opposition over the consumption tax hike, social security reform and Japan-U.S. trade negotiations, while opposition lawmakers are set to grill untested new ministers, as this will be the first Diet session since Abe reshuffled ministerial posts on Sept. 11.

It will also be the first parliamentary debate since the July Upper House election, in which the LDP and Komeito secured a majority.

With a new lineup of Cabinet ministers picked last week, Abe will likely deliver his policy speech on the opening day of the parliamentary session followed by questioning by party leaders and Diet deliberations from Oct. 7 or later. The extraordinary session is likely to end around Dec. 10.

The government is considering submitting around 20 bills during the upcoming session, including one to revise a special law on pay for public school teachers to reflect work style reforms and an amendment to the companies law to oblige large corporations to have outside directors. If Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump sign a trade deal next week in New York as planned, the government will seek parliamentary approval before it is enforced.

In their latest bid to counterbalance the ruling bloc in the upcoming session, the two largest opposition parties, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People, agreed on Thursday to join forces in both houses of the Diet.

The opposition is likely to criticize the Abe administration and is expected to target new ministers such as National Public Safety Commission Chairman Ryota Takeda, who was reported to have received money from former gang members.

They are also expected to press the government over its allegedly slow response to widespread blackouts in Chiba Prefecture after Typhoon Faxai struck the area last week, claiming that the Cabinet reshuffle led to delays in responding to the situation.

The parliamentary session will begin days after Japan raises its consumption tax rate from the current 8 percent to 10 percent on Oct. 1, a move criticized by opposition parties.

Meanwhile, as Abe seeks to inject momentum into his push to amend the Constitution, the LDP is expected to encourage opposition parties to engage in parliamentary debate on constitutional reform.

Approval by two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Diet is necessary to initiate the constitutional revision process. Any amendment then needs to be approved by a majority of the public in a referendum.

The LDP and other pro-amendment forces lost such a majority in the Upper House following the July election.

To pave the way for a future constitutional amendment, the LDP has been seeking the Diet’s approval to revise the country’s referendum law.