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Analysis: Abe aims to grab initiative in setting political agenda

  • 2015-11-17 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
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(Nikkei: November 17, 2015 – p. 5)


 By Manabu Shimada in Antalya, southern Turkey


 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that he will convene the Diet on Jan. 4 at a meeting with the traveling press on Nov. 16. Calling the Diet into session at an unusually early time [after the new year] is meant to soften criticism of his failure to convene an extraordinary Diet session in fall. At the same time, he is aiming at keeping various options open for the House of Councillors election in summer 2016, including the option of holding simultaneous Upper and Lower House elections, in order to grab the initiative in setting the political agenda.


 A Diet session starting on Jan. 4 will be the earliest since the practice of convening the Diet in January started in 1992.


 Abe said this is because “it will be virtually impossible” to convene an extraordinary Diet session this year due to the budget formulation process and the diplomatic schedule, while the FY2015 supplementary budget “needs to be submitted to the Diet for enactment as soon as possible.” He explained that he decided on this schedule “based on an overall assessment of these factors, while keeping the spirit of the Constitution in mind.”


 For Upper House members facing reelection, the timing of the election is a matter of life and death that will affect their campaign preparations. If the option of simultaneous Upper and Lower House elections remains open, Abe will also be able to hold a card to manipulate both ruling party and opposition members of the House of Representatives.


 On the other hand, foregoing an extraordinary Diet session will enable Abe to avoid the “politics and money” issues involving Reconstruction Minister Tsuyoshi Takagi and others for now.


 Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo on Nov. 16: “It is unconstitutional not to convene the Diet. This is the same thing a dictatorship does.” (Abridged)

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