(Tokyo Shimbun: January 7, 2016 – p. 1)
Representative interpellation by the political parties on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s diplomatic report and Finance Minister Taro Aso’s fiscal policy speech took place at the House of Representatives plenary session on Jan. 6, kicking off policy debates in the Diet.
In light of persisting public criticism against the security laws, three opposition parties demanded the scrapping of these laws. Two other parties that did not participate in the interpellation are also considering co-sponsoring a five-party bill aimed at revoking the security laws. Abe stressed the importance of these laws and rejected the opposition’s demand. Heated debate between the ruling and opposition parties is expected to continue until the House of Councillors election this summer.
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Katsuya Okada, Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Keiji Kokuta, and Japan Innovation Party (JIP) leader Yorihisa Matsuno opposed the security laws during the interpellation. While the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the People’s Life Party (PLP) did not take the floor, they are also demanding the scrapping of these laws.
The DPJ plans to submit a bill to revoke the security laws during the current Diet session. It will also submit three other bills, including amendments to the UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) cooperation law, which now authorizes rescue missions. The JIP says that “it takes the same position on revoking unconstitutional laws.” However, it differs with the DPJ on some issues, such as the need to come up with counterproposals to expand certain conditions for invoking the right of self-defense.
Although the JCP will not go along the three DPJ bills, it intends to cooperate with regard to the bill for scrapping the security laws. The same goes for the SDP and the PLP.
The DPJ plans to engage the other parties in discussions, aiming at submitting its bill before the end of this month, at the earliest. The five opposition parties agree that preventing the ruling parties from winning a majority in the Upper House election is one step toward revoking the security laws. They are working on fielding common candidates. (Abridged)