National / Politics

Draft budgets and constitutional reform in focus as Japanese Diet gets set to open Jan. 20

Kyodo

The Diet will convene on Jan. 20 for a 150-day regular session that will put priority on early passage of draft budgets for the current and next fiscal years, government officials said Friday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will deliver his policy speech on the first day of the Diet session, which will last through June 17, along with the foreign, finance and economy ministers. The Cabinet approved the schedule Friday.

The speeches will be followed by questioning by ruling and opposition party leaders in both houses from Jan. 22 to 24.

Abe has been increasing his calls for an “active” debate on constitutional reform, a long-held goal of the prime minister and his Liberal Democratic Party.

But the outlook remains uncertain as opposition lawmakers are set to grill the government over its handling of guest lists for an annual publicly funded cherry blossom viewing party at the center of a campaign scandal as well as a casino-bribery scandal involving LDP lawmakers.

The government’s Maritime Self-Defense Force dispatch to the Middle East for an intelligence-gathering mission is also expected to come under intense scrutiny amid U.S.-Iran tensions.

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