National / Politics

Japan opposition camp demands extra Diet session

JIJI

Opposition parties demanded Wednesday that an extraordinary session of the Diet be convened early in response to a resurgence in novel coronavirus cases and recent heavy rain disasters in many regions of the nation.

Jun Azumi, Diet affairs chief of the major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, made the request at a meeting with his counterpart Hiroshi Moriyama of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Moriyama told Azumi that he will convey the opposition demand to the government. But the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to reject the request, sources familiar with the situation said.

Moriyama said that he wants to talk with Azumi about a proposal to continue off-session Diet debates when they meet again Aug. 5.

At a meeting earlier on Wednesday, the Diet affairs chiefs of the CDP and other opposition parties agreed that an extra Diet session should be held. Opposition parties plan to hold a meeting among their leaders later this week, aiming to demand the session based on Article 53 of the Constitution.

The article stipulates that the Cabinet must decide to convene an extraordinary Diet session if demanded by at least a quarter of all members of either Diet chamber.

In talks with reporters, Azumi criticized the Abe government for going ahead with its Go To Travel tourism promotion campaign despite caution amid the coronavirus resurgence.

Abe “has given no explanation at all about this at the Diet or to the public,” Azumi said, adding that the prime minister should not take a summer break in August.

The travel discount campaign began July 22 with the exclusion of trips to and from Tokyo, where coronavirus cases are surging again.

The Abe administration is reluctant to accept the opposition demand for an extra Diet session in order to avoid being grilled over controversial issues, including the Go To Travel campaign and a scandal involving former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife, Anri, who have been indicted for alleged vote-buying for Anri in the election for the House of Councilors in July 2019 in violation of the public offices election law, pundits said.

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