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Gov’t to vote on TPP by Dec. 9, but put off the approval of revised ACSA

  • December 7, 2016
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation
  • ,

With the current Diet session due to adjourn on Dec. 14, the government and the ruling parties are speeding up efforts to deal with key bills. They are set to surely enact a pension reform bill and ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact and relevant bills, and arrangements are underway to set a voting date. On the other hand, they will put off approving revisions to the Acquisition and Cross-Serving Agreement (ACSA), an intergovernmental arrangement between Japan and the United States for the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military to provide each other with supplies, as they are unable to secure enough time to deliberate.

 

The Diet debate is effectively moving to the House of Councillors, as a casino bill passed the House of Representatives on Dec. 6. The ruling parties are working to enact a pension reform bill, which is designed to strengthen a “macroeconomic slide formula” to rein in increases in pension benefits, on the final day of Dec. 14. They will postpone putting the TPP ratification and related bills to a vote until Dec. 9, when they will be naturally enacted without a vote in the Upper House as stipulated in the Constitution.

 

In the Lower House, the Democratic Party adopted the tactic of putting off a vote on the TPP ratification and a pension reform bill by claiming “they are not sufficiently deliberated.” But in the Upper House, it has changed course. “We will highlight problems through Diet deliberations,” said a senior DP member in the UH. The ruling parties predict that the opposition parties will not likely put up strong resistance.

 

The leaders of the ruling and opposition parties will meet for the first time in the current Diet session on Dec. 7 to debate on the TPP ratification. The ruling and opposition parties also agreed that the UH special committee on the TPP will hold intensive deliberations, which will be joined by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “We have paid sufficient consideration to the opposition parties,” said a senior official in the LDP Diet affairs committee. The ruling parties are looking to seek the opposition bench’s understanding for taking a vote on Dec. 9.

 

Meanwhile, it remains unknown when revisions to ASCA will enter deliberations, as Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who oversees the matter, must concentrate on TPP deliberations. The government is also working to revise or conclude an ASCA with Australia, the U.K. and other nations, but the postponement of the approval of the revised ASCA may affect other schedules. (Abridged)

 

Prospects of key bills during the current Diet session

Already enacted

Second supplementary budget for FY2016

Inject 4.5 trillion yen for additional stimulus

Legislation to re-extend a hike in the consumption tax

Postponing raising the consumption tax to 10% till October 2019

Revised legislation to strengthen pension functions

Cut the duration of pension premium payments from 25 years to 10 years to become eligible for pension benefits

Enactment likely

TPP ratification and related bills

To liberalize trade and investment

Pension reform bill

To strengthen a “macroeconomic slide formula”

Casino bill

To promote construction of integrated resorts centering on casinos

Difficult to enact

Revisions to the Civil Code (obligation related parts)

To overhaul rules on contracts that businesses and consumers sign

Revisions to the Labor Standards Act

To introduce a “white collar exemption” scheme

Approval of ASCA

To enable SDF and U.S. forces to reciprocate the provision of supplies and services

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