A party leaders’ debate, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the opposition party leaders debate basic policies, is not expected to take place in the current Diet session. This was revealed by senior ruling party and opposition leaders on Nov. 15. The reason is the opposition’s giving priority to holding the Budget Committee meetings, which makes it impossible to schedule a leaders’ debate before the Diet adjourns on Dec. 9.
No leaders’ debate has been held since the last one took place in December 2016. If no debate takes place during the current session, this will be the first time for a leaders’ debate not to be held even once in a whole year since the system started in 2000. There will likely be criticism that this system is being rendered meaningless.
Party leaders’ debates were held eight times in 2000, but they have been held less frequently by the year. Although the ruling and opposition parties agreed in May 2014 to hold a debate once a month, this agreement has not be adhered to. Last year, only two debates were held.
A Diet source explained: “The party leaders’ debate has deviated from its original purpose of stimuating Diet deliberations. It is not helping to deepen discussions.” (Abridged)