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Opposition on offensive in light of Amari scandal

  • 2016-01-25 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: January 23, 2016 – p. 4)


 By Kenjiro Takahashi


 With the eruption of Economic Revitalization Minister Akira Amari’s alleged bribery scandal, the opposition, which had failed to attack the administration effectively in the initial phase of the regular Diet session, is now gaining momentum. In addition to cornering a key cabinet member, the opposition is now ready to claim that “Abenomics failed” in light of the stock prices plunge since early this year. The opposition parties are poised to go on the offensive capitalizing on the enemy’s error.


 Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Katsuya Okada told reporters emphatically on Jan. 22: “If the allegation is true, it is inappropriate for him to serve as a cabinet member. Not only that; since the law has been broken, this may disqualify him as a Diet member.”


 The DPJ has formed a “special team” on this issue consisting of the party’s members in the Budget Committee. It will conduct its own investigations in order to grill Amari. The party has already submitted 15 written questions – including whether it is true that Amari received cash — to the House of Representatives speaker.


 The opposition’s performance in the initial phase of the Diet session that started on Jan. 4 had “lacked impact,” according to a senior Diet affairs official of the Japan Innovation Party.


 Amari’s alleged scandal came as a godsend. Amari is responsible for the centerpiece of the Abe administration’s policies, Abenomics and a key minister who is in charge of TPP negotiations. The opposition believes that they will be able to deal a heavy blow to the Abe administration if Amari is forced to resign, or even if he keeps his job, the scandal will provide a subject on which to grill the government continuously. A certain senior DPJ official even mentioned the possibility of toppling two ministers, Amari and Reconstruction Minister Tsuyoshi Takagi tainted with another money scandal, at the same time. The opposition parties are all excited that “the tide has changed.”


 However, these parties are not on the same page with regard to Diet affairs tactics. Although members of six parties boycotted Amari’s policy speech in the House of Representatives, only the Japanese Communist Party did so in the House of Councillors. The reasoning of the DPJ leaders in the Upper House was that there was no reason to a boycott the Upper House plenary session because Amari had responded to interpellations on the scandal at the Budget Committee on Jan. 21, but this issue had thrown the general meeting of DPJ Upper House members into confusion. Many party members shouted: “We should boycott, otherwise, the DPJ will be criticized again for being inconsistent.” (Slightly abridged)

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