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Ruling parties eye voting on security bills unilaterally

  • 2015-07-14 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: July 14, 2015 – p. 4)


 With the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Innovation Party raising opposition against holding a committee vote on a series of security bills on July 15, the government and the ruling parties are mulling putting them to a vote unilaterally. But concerns are growing within the ruling bloc that such an action may backfire.


 The Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito Party will on July 14 discuss with the JIP its counterproposal on security legislation. “Holding a committee vote on July 15 is too hasty so we may skip the session,” said JIP leader Matsuno. But the ruling parties will look for middle ground until the last minute to ensure the JIP will be present when a vote takes place.


 But many LDP members do not support the idea of revising the bills submitted by the government. A proposal for incorporating JIP positions as supplementary provisions or additional resolutions has been floated, but the JIP remains unyielding. “We can’t arrive at an agreement with the ruling parties in the absence of in-depth discussions on the essence of our proposal,” said JIP Secretary-General Kakizawa.


 The JIP wants the bills to be voted on at the House of Representatives later this month or afterward to prevent them from being sent again to the Lower House for a second vote under the “60-day rule” under Article 59. Given that the current Diet session is scheduled to end on September 27, the ruling parties will not be able to resort to this rule [to send them again to the Lower House for passage and enactment] if a vote is prolonged.


 The JIP members from its Diet affairs committee on July 13 proposed their version of revisions to the ruling parties. “We cannot accept it as it is not agreed upon within the party,” said a senior member of the LDP Diet Affairs Committee. “They might be trying to block us from using the 60-day rule, but we won’t get taken in.”


 Meanwhile, some members of the opposition parties expect Lower House Speaker Oshima to act as a “brake.” He emphasized during his inauguration press conference in April that he will create an environment that heeds minority opinions and noted security bills should be deliberated with extra care.


 If the ruling parties vote on the bills and approve them unilaterally, the odds are high that the opposition parties will boycott a vote at a plenary session. The Lower House Speaker must give approval for convening a plenary session. A senior JIP member expects Oshima not to give the nod easily if a vote takes place without the presence of the opposition parties.


 But Oshima is the LDP’s longest-serving Diet Affairs Chairman, having been in the post for 1,430 days. “He knows the Diet affairs committee makes painstaking efforts,” said a senior LDP member.


 If the ruling parties hold a vote on July 15, the momentum to reform the electoral system in the Upper House may grind to a halt. The LDP is planning to submit revisions to the public office election law together with JIP and three other opposition parties to redress the vote disparity in Upper House elections. The partnership may collapse if the ruling parties pass the security bills at the Lower House unilaterally.


 Komeito leader Yamaguchi eyes the enactment of the revised public office election bill on July 25, a year before the next summer Upper House election, so the changes can be in place by next summer. But revisions have yet to be presented to the Diet.


 The opposition parties may boycott deliberations both at the Lower and Upper House. (Slightly abridged)

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