Following Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s policy speech on Monday in the Lower House, a period of questions and answers started in the current extraordinary Diet session on Wednesday. Political parties should refrain from bickering and speedily act on two urgent issues — the passage of a bill to float deficit-covering bonds to cover some 40 percent of the fiscal 2012 budget and the enactment of bills to rectify the value of a vote between depopulated rural areas and populated urban areas for Lower and Upper house elections. The Diet must take into consideration the possibililty that if elections are held without reapportionment, the Supreme Court may rule that the election results are null and void, and may order that new elections be held.

For his part, Mr. Noda should present the goals of his administration at this stage in a concrete manner. The opposition parties, on the other hand, need to make efforts to deepen discussion on policy matters. Although bills to raise the consumption tax had been enacted in the previous Diet session, discussions should be held on whether it is wise to go ahead with the consumption tax rate hike given the weakness of the economic recovery. All the political parties also should not forget to take up such issues as nuclear power generation, the need to compile a supplementary budget to stimulate the economy and foreign policy in East Asia in the midst of the diplomatic crisis between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands.

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