(Asahi: December 19, 2015 – p. 4)
The Steering Committee of the House of Representatives decided on Dec. 18 on a schedule for the start of the regular Diet session to be convened on Jan. 4 next year. With the House of Councillors election coming up in July, the ruling and opposition parties will likely intensify their battle over such things as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact, lower tax rates to be introduced when the consumption tax rate is raised to 10%, and a political funds scandal involving a cabinet member.
The regular Diet session will run for 150 days until June 1. The government will submit a bill on a supplementary budget for fiscal 2015, which was approved at a cabinet meeting on Dec. 18, to the Diet on Jan. 4. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will report to the Diet on his diplomatic activities and Finance Minister Taro Aso will make a fiscal policy speech [on Jan. 4]. On Jan. 6, party representatives’ interpellation will be held.
After the passage of the supplementary budget, the Diet will start deliberations on a budget for fiscal 2016. Attention will also be focused on bills related to reform of the tax system, including the introduction of lower tax rates in April 2017. So the government intends to aim at passing the bills before the end of fiscal 2015 in order to secure a year for fully informing the public of the tax system reform.
In or after April, full-scale debate over Diet approval of the TPP will start. The G7 (Ise-Shima) Summit will be held on May 26-27. Abe envisions a scenario in which the campaign for the House of Councillors election will kick off after a successful G7 Summit. (Slightly abridged)