(Kanagawa Shimbun: March 22, 2016 – p. 2)
The House of Representatives will set up a special committee to deliberate the approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and bills related to the free trade pact at a March 24 plenary session. Though the passage of the budgetary bill for fiscal 2016 is expected to take place at a House of Councillors plenary session on March 29, deliberations on the TPP will likely begin on April 5 due to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s diplomatic schedule. The enactment of the TPP bills during the current Diet session may be difficult due to the tight deliberation schedule.
The Liberal Democratic Party’s cadre in the Lower House had initially planned to launch Diet discussions on TPP related matters on March 29, prior to Abe’s departure to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, which will be held in Washington from March 31. But the party leadership in the Upper House decided to put the budget to a vote on March 29 out of consideration for the opposition camp. As a result, deliberations on the TPP will begin on April 5 at the earliest.
Considering the time needed for deliberation in the Upper House, it will be difficult to enact the TPP bills during the current Diet session unless the Lower House passes them in about three weeks. “Deliberations will start about a week later than we had initially planned,” said a person with the LDP’s Diet Affairs Committee. “The schedule is getting tight.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan is demanding that the bills be deliberated thoroughly. “Doubts remain over whether the government has upheld the Diet resolution that calls for protecting the five key farm items from tariff exemption,” said Yoshiaki Takaki, head of the DPJ’s Diet affairs committee. “The government needs to fully disclose related information and hold thorough discussions.” (Abridged)