National / Politics

Revision to Japan's referendum law unlikely during current Diet session

JIJI

The ruling bloc is facing difficulty enacting a law revision to make national referendums on constitutional amendments more convenient during the current Diet session ending June 17.

In the Diet, the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution will hold free discussions on the bill to revise the national referendum law Thursday.

The Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling camp wants an early vote, which is unlikely during the ongoing session due to the lack of support from opposition parties.

But the ruling side is finding it difficult to take a strong-arm approach at a time when the opposition’s cooperation is needed in the fight against the novel coronavirus, sources said.

The bill was introduced mainly by the LDP and its coalition partner, Komeito, in June 2018. The measure has been carried over to a subsequent Diet session six times.

This is because opposition lawmakers are concerned that if the bill is enacted, the ruling side would seek progress in constitutional amendment discussions at the Lower House panel.

Last week, the secretaries-general of the LDP and Komeito reconfirmed that they aim to enact it during the current Diet session, but the opposition balked.

“The bill has not gone through enough deliberations. It is senseless to take a vote,” said Jun Azumi, Diet affairs chief of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

With less than a month left until the end of the Diet session, the government and the ruling parties are poised to focus on the enactment of the fiscal 2020 second supplementary budget, including additional stimulus measures to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Forcing a vote on the bill will be difficult as it may hamper smooth budget deliberations, the sources said.

“Discussions on the Constitution have been blown away” by the coronavirus crisis, an LDP executive said.

Coronavirus banner