National / Politics

Japanese parliamentary session unlikely to be extended

JIJI

The government and ruling camp are planning not to extend the current extraordinary session of the Diet, which is scheduled to end on Dec. 9, sources in the administration said Thursday.

Enacting important bills, including one to ratify a recently signed Japan-U.S. trade agreement, without extending the session is possible, the sources said. An extension is also unnecessary, they added, because the ruling bloc has given up on passing a controversial bill to amend the national referendum law during the ongoing session.

“In principle, there’s no need to extend the extraordinary session once the trade pact ratification bill is passed,” said a senior official of Komeito, the coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. “The Diet session won’t be extended unless a very urgent issue comes up,” an LDP official in charge of parliamentary affairs said.

The House of Councilors launched full-fledged debates on the trade bill Thursday at its Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, after the House of Representatives passed it Tuesday.

“The bill is highly likely to be enacted” during the current Diet session, Hiroshige Seko, a senior LDP lawmaker in the Upper House, said Thursday. “It’s fully possible for the Diet to pass other key bills” before the scheduled end of the ongoing session, he added.

The LDP-Komeito pair is now considering handling the referendum law amendment at next year’s regular Diet session, which is likely to convene in January, as the ruling and opposition sides remain at loggerheads over the matter.

The ruling side apparently also thinks it’s better to close the Diet without an extension at a time when the opposition bloc is eager to grill Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over a scandal related to a state-funded annual cherry blossom-viewing party, informed sources said.