• Jiji

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A showdown between the ruling and opposition camps is expected to intensify toward the end of the current regular session of the Diet on June 16.

The coronavirus countermeasures of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government will likely remain the biggest issue for the rest of the Diet session.

The ruling coalition, led by Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party, is poised to accelerate efforts to enact pending important bills while setting its eyes on the July 4 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the next general election for the House of Representatives, which must be held by this autumn.

With the June 9 parliamentary debate between Suga, also LDP chief, and leaders of opposition parties being among the most important political events in the near future, the opposition camp is expected to consider the possibility of submitting a no-confidence motion against the Suga Cabinet to the Diet, informed sources said.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) and other opposition parties are calling on the government to compile a supplementary budget for fiscal 2021 for financing measures against the coronavirus.

But the government and the ruling camp do not see a need to draw up an extra budget during the current Diet session.

They plan to close the 150-day regular session without extending it as the June 25 start of the official campaign period for the Tokyo assembly election draws near.

Among key pending bills is one on restricting the use of land plots deemed important for national security.

The government and the ruling bloc have given up on enacting bills to amend the immigration control and refugee recognition law and the broadcasting business law during the ongoing session.

But they are making all-out efforts to pass the land bill, with conservatives in the LDP pushing for its enactment.

The ruling pair of the LDP and Komeito put the bill to a vote at the Cabinet Committee of the Lower House on Friday despite resistance from opposition parties. It cleared the committee by a majority vote with support mainly from the two ruling parties.

The CDP and others criticize the bill for leading to the restriction of private rights, opposing the ruling side’s attempt to force it through the Diet.

The bill is expected to be approved by the Lower House on Tuesday.

But its enactment looks uncertain because the opposition bloc plans to ramp up its resistance during debates on the legislation at the House of Councilors, political watchers said.

The upcoming parliamentary debate among party leaders will be the first in about two years. Participants, including Suga and CDP leader Yukio Edano, are expected to engage in heated discussions on issues including the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis and the fate of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which were postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic.

“I will be able to have a face-to-face debate with the prime minister,” Edano said at a meeting of his party on Friday. “The level of tension in the entire Diet is likely to continue increasing,” he added.

The CDP is expected to make a decision on whether to submit a no-confidence motion against the Suga Cabinet after analyzing the outcomes of the parliamentary debate, sources familiar with the situation said.

Still, the government’s decision to extend its coronavirus state of emergency may affect the opposition side’s moves regarding the envisaged no-confidence motion.

“If a no-confidence motion is submitted, the Lower House should be dissolved immediately,” a senior LDP lawmaker warned.

Meanwhile, the ruling and opposition camps are cooperating in enacting lawmaker-initiated bills, including those to revise the national referendum law related to constitutional amendment, aid former construction workers exposed to asbestos and enable people infected with the coronavirus to vote by mail in national and local elections.

The ruling coalition plans to seek cooperation from the CDP and other opposition parties for a bill to allow foreign athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to bring in proscribed drugs for medical treatment.

Both the ruling and opposition sides are apparently trying to demonstrate their contributions to enacting important bills, pundits said.

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