The Komeito Party held the first meeting of its constitution research council to discuss constitutional reform. The meeting revealed a sharp disagreement among the party members over the issue of an “emergency provision” that would allow an extension of Diet members’ terms of office during an emergency such as large-scale natural disaster. The party is expected to clarify its position at the Lower House commission on the constitution on March 16. But forming a consensus within the party may prove to be difficult by then.
While some members push for the emergency term extension for Lower House members, others advocate effective use of the existing system: summoning the Upper House emergency session. Under Article 54 of the Constitution, if an emergency coincides with the Lower House dissolution, the cabinet can convene the Upper House emergency session. It was invoked twice in the past.
The emergency provision involves the issue of the position and responsibilities of the Upper House in the legislative branch, clarifying the difference in opinion along chamber lines. The Komeito members in the Lower House, where many cooperate with Liberal Democratic Party colleagues in elections, want to avoid friction within the ruling parties. By contrast, a senior Komeito member in the Upper House said, “We will not be blindly dragged into voting for the emergency provision. This is a battle.” (Abridged)