As the budget bill for FY2017 is expected to be passed on March 27 at a plenary session of the House of Councillors, lawmakers will now begin deliberating on other key legislation. The government and ruling parties intend to pass by the end of the current session on June 18 such important bills as the one to revise the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds that will criminalize acts of preparation to commit terrorism . However, opposition parties will probably continue to relentlessly ask questions about the issue concerning the sale of state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen in Osaka. The current Diet session is unlikely to be extended because the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election is scheduled for July. It remains to be seen what will happen in the second half of the Diet session.
Besides the bill to criminalize acts of preparation to commit terrorism, lawmakers will deliberate during the second half of the Diet session on the bill regarding the Emperor’s abdication and the bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law aimed at redistributing single-seat electoral districts.
Regarding the anti-terrorism bill, intense deliberations are expected as the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party have called for scrapping the bill. The administration and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) intend to begin deliberations on the bill in early April, have the House of Representatives pass it before the Golden Week holidays in early May, and have the Diet pass it in mid-May. However, the junior coalition Komeito attaches more importance to deliberations on the bill to revise the Penal Code, which is aimed at imposing stricter punishments for sex crimes. Under the circumstances, the LDP-envisioned schedule is subject to change.
The bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law and the one regarding the Emperor’s abdication are expected to be submitted to the Diet in late April or beyond.
Lawmakers have conducted deliberations on the Moritomo Gakuen issue during the Budget Committee sessions of both chambers of the Diet. Since the budget bill is expected to be passed soon, the committees will effectively “close up shop.” Although the LDP hopes that the Moritomo Gakuen issue will subside with the closure of the budget committees, it remains to be seen whether the party can escape further questioning from the opposition. (Abridged)