A 33-day extraordinary Diet session kicked off on Monday under unusual circumstances. The opposition in the Upper House refused to listen to a policy speech by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the grounds that the chamber in the previous session passed a censure motion against him. Thus Mr. Noda gave his policy speech only in the Lower House. Such an action is unprecedented since the current Constitution took effect on May 3, 1947.

It is the Diet’s duty to discuss policy matters on the basis of a policy speech given by the prime minister. The refusal to listen to the prime minister’s policy speech runs counter to that principle. While a no-confidence motion by the Lower House against the prime minister has a constitutional basis, a censure motion by the Upper House against the prime minister has no legal basis. Therefore, the constitutionally questionable move by the opposition sets a problematic precedent. If the opposition forces take part in the deliberations in the Upper House budget and other committees, it will be difficult to find any logic in their contradictory courses of action.

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