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Political parties were divided Thursday over whether an emergency clause should be established in the Constitution, at a meeting of the House of Representatives panel on the top law.

Lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and those from two opposition parties — Nippon Ishin no Kai (the Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People — called for debates to be held on amending the Constitution to include a clause applicable in times of emergencies.

The developments come as the country continues its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which is showing no signs of abating.

At the meeting of the Commission on the Constitution of the lower chamber of the Diet, Minoru Kiuchi of the LDP said, “We should squarely face the issue before the worst situation happens in which the Diet dost not function when an urgent response is required,” citing the coronavirus crisis and a spate of large-scale natural disasters that have hit the country in recent years.

Noting that local governments issued their own states of emergency during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, Yasushi Adachi of Nippon Ishin said, “Local authorities had no other option but to repeatedly call for the implementation of countermeasures with weak legal grounds.”

Shiori Yamao of the DPP proposed that a survey be conducted on how emergency clauses in the constitutions of other countries are operated.

Meanwhile, Daiki Michishita of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan said that many people who received COVID-19 treatment at their own homes or accommodation facilities were unable to cast their ballots in elections, stressing the need to deal with the problem under the public offices election law or the national referendum law.

Nobuko Motomura of the Japanese Communist Party, also an opposition party, said, “We should hold discussions on policies that are needed for guaranteeing the right to life, rather than amending the Constitution.”

The Lower House’s Commission on the Constitution was meeting for the first time during the current regular session of the Diet.

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