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No party leader debate expected during current Diet session

There may be no one-on-one party leaders’ debate, where the prime minister and the opposition party leaders such as the Democratic Party’s Renho trade verbal blows, during the current Diet session. The debate began at the extraordinary Diet session in 1999 in a bid to galvanize the Diet. The debate has been held at least once at the ordinary Diet session every year? since 2000. If the debate is not held this time, it will be the first Diet session to have no such debate since the custom started.


Generally, the opposition bloc asks the ruling bloc to hold the debate in the Diet. But this time, it is the opposite. The DP demanded that intensive deliberations be held at the budget committees of both the upper and lower houses over the latest scandal involving the prime minister and Kake Educational Institution.


On the other hand, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has suggested to hold a one-on-one debate between party leaders instead of holding intensive deliberations. This shows that the LDP wants to discuss the scandal at a brief one-on-one debate, not in a time-consuming budget committee.


A one-on-one debate lasts for 45 minutes and the time is shared among the DP, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party). Thus, the DP is concerned that it will not be able to fully question the government due to a lack of time. A senior member of the LDP’s Diet Affairs Committee says, “We haven’t received a strong request from the DP [to hold a one-on-one debate with the prime minister.]”


Some in the ruling bloc believe that the DP is afraid that if Renho fails to thoroughly attack the prime minister, it will negatively affect the upcoming Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election (that kicks off on June 23.)

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