by Yusuke Kaite and Akira Murao
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga attended the March 11 meeting of the “Nikan Nikoku,” a weekly meeting of the secretaries-general and Diet affairs committee chairpersons of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito. This meeting is for the two political parties to discuss their parliamentary affairs policy so it is very unusual for a chief cabinet secretary, a member of the government, to attend. Behind this action is the ruling parties’ “discontent” with the Abe administration’s making unilateral decisions on measures against the new coronavirus. In particular, Komeito is deeply dissatisfied with the nationwide school closure policy, for which it received enormous backlash from its supporters.
After the meeting, Komeito Diet affairs committee chairperson Yosuke Takagi told the press that attendees confirmed that the chief cabinet secretary will promptly report to the secretaries-general of both parties if there are further developments.
At the March 10 liaison meeting of the government and ruling parties held at the Prime Minister’s Office [Kantei], Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi made a statement related to the revision of the special measures law against new types of influenza, which will enable the prime minister to declare a “state of emergency” on the new coronavirus. As he sat next to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Yamaguchi requested that the Kantei discuss the matter fully with the ruling parties and explain the situation in detail to the Japanese public, in the event that an emergency declaration were issued.
During the closed portion of the meeting, the prime minister apologized for not being able to take the opportunity to explain [the measures] sufficiently to members of the ruling parties, Yamaguchi revealed. There is still discontent within the Komeito. As a Komeito leader commented: “Even if the government gives an explanation about the new coronavirus measures, it is just alibi-making since the explanation is given immediately before the announcement.”