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Regular Diet session to open Jan. 4; Upper House election campaign likely to start after G7

  • 2015-11-17 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: November 17, 2015 – p. 4)

 

 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an unusual decision to convene the next regular Diet session earlier than usual on Jan. 4. The House of Councillors election will probably be held around July 10. This schedule is favorable for the ruling parties because they will be able to campaign for the Upper House election after boosting the support rate for the cabinet by taking advantage of the G7 (Ise-Shima) Summit late next May.

 

 If the regular Diet session (term of 150 days) is convened on Jan. 4, the session will end on June 1 unless it is extended.

 

 The Ise-Shima Summit, which will start on May 26, will be a diplomatic stage where it will be easy for Prime Minister Abe, his government, and the ruling coalition to come under the spotlight. There is a strong possibility that the Diet will be in recess at the time of the G7 Summit. The government and ruling coalition appear to be formulating a scenario for kicking off the campaign for the Upper House election immediately after the summit without giving the opposition camp any opportunity to pursue them.

 

 If the regular session is not extended, the Upper House election will be held based on the Public Offices Election Law, which stipulates that “the election should be conducted within 30 days before the terms of Upper House members expire.” Since the terms of Upper House members up for reelection will expire on July 25, it would be possible to hold the election on June 26, July 3, July 10, July 17, or July 24. The government and ruling coalition intend to hold the election on or after July 10, when the revised election law lowering the minimum voting age to 18 will applied for the first time.

 

 If Abe dissolves the House of Representatives on June 1, the end of the regular session, it will be possible to hold simultaneously the Upper and Lower House elections on July 10.

 

 During the meeting with the press corps on Nov. 16, Abe formally expressed his view to forgo the convocation of an extraordinary Diet session, which the opposition camp has demanded based on Article 53 of the Constitution. Taking into account the possibility of growing criticism by the opposition bloc “for avoiding Diet debate,” Abe might have decided to convene the regular session earlier than usual.

 

 The ruling parties plan to pass in mid-January a supplementary budget for measures for supporting domestic farmers who will be affected by the TPP and creating “a society that enables the dynamic engagement of all citizens.” They also intend to start working seriously on Diet deliberations on a budget for next fiscal year in late January or after. It is indispensable to secure a certain amount of time for deliberations on budget-related bills that need to be enacted by the end of this fiscal year [March 31]. (Slightly abridged)

 

 Convocation of regular Diet session on Jan. 4 and upcoming major political events

 

January 4

 

Early January

 

Around January 22

Convocation of regular Diet session

 

Diet deliberations on supplementary budget for FY2015

 

Submission to Diet of budget plan for FY2016

Early February or after

Signing ceremony for the TPP agreement by leaders of 12 participating countries

End of March

Passage of budget for FY2016

 

Enactment of tax system-related bills, including reduced tax rates

April or after

Diet deliberations on TPP agreement

May 26

Ise-Shima Summit (until 27th)

June 1

 

June 19

End of regular Diet session

 

Enforcement of the revised election law to lower the minimum age for granting voting rights to 18.

June 26; July 3, 10, 17, 24

 

July 25

Voting day?

 

Expiration of terms of Upper House members up for reelection

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