National / Politics

Referendum law revision passage during current Diet session very unlikely

JIJI

The passage of an amendment to Japan’s national referendum law aimed at improving voter convenience for a possible referendum on revising the Constitution is now unlikely to occur during the current extraordinary session of the Diet, which ends Dec. 9.

At a meeting on Wednesday, senior officials of major opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, agreed to oppose the bill being put to a vote during the current session.

Later in the day, Hiroshi Moriyama, Diet affairs chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and his counterpart from the CDPJ, Jun Azumi, met and agreed to not hold a vote Thursday on the bill by the Commission on the Constitution in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber. The LDP and its Komeito ally recently confirmed that they will not ram a vote through.

At a meeting of senior members of the commission Wednesday, the two sides remained in a deadlock as the ruling camp proposed that the commission take a vote on the amendment Thursday while major opposition parties reiterated their call for putting priority on discussions on regulating television commercials regarding a referendum on the constitutional revision. The two sides decided to cancel a meeting of the commission planned for Thursday.

Moriyama and Azumi agreed to continue discussions on the bill during the current Diet session. The opposition side believes that a vote will not be taken on the bill during the session.

Following the decision to skip Thursday’s meeting, the Lower House commission is now slated to hold only two regular meetings before the end of the ongoing Diet session. The Commission on the Constitution of the House of Councilors, the upper chamber, is also scheduled to meet only twice. Due to the tight schedule, enacting the amendment during the current Diet session looks extremely difficult, sources said.

Meanwhile, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) Secretary-General Nobuyuki Baba criticized both the ruling and opposition camps. “Opposition parties are engaging in obstruction tactics as usual, and I wonder if the ruling coalition really has the determination (to pass the bill).”

“It is possible for the Lower House constitution panel to hold discussions on days other than Thursdays, its regular meeting days,” he also said, adding, “Discussions can be held even when the Diet is not in session.”