All papers reported that the largest opposition Democratic Party and the second-largest Japanese Communist Party boycotted Wednesday’s parliamentary deliberations on the TPP legislation in protest of a controversial comment made by Agriculture Minister Yamamoto, who suggested on Tuesday the need to “railroad” the GOJ-sponsored bills. According to Sankei, junior ruling partner Komeito party is extremely displeased with Yamamoto’s gaffe, given that an LDP lawmaker on the Lower House special committee on the regional free trade pact was replaced in late September for making a similar comment. Komeito leaders called for the administration and the ruling LDP to “tighten discipline” among their officials. Minister Yamamoto offered an apology for his remark at the special committee Wednesday evening.
Although the two opposition parties may continue to boycott the talks in order to demand Yamamoto’s resignation, the Abe administration is disinclined to sack the farm minister. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga dismissed the opposition’s demand by telling the press on Wednesday afternoon that the remark is not something that warrants the resignation of a cabinet minister. While the administration is still determined to pass the legislation at the Lower House this month, Nikkei painted a bleak picture, adding that the controversy will probably have adverse effects on the deliberations on other key bills, including the bill to ratify the Paris Agreement on global warming.